Wednesday 31 May 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different theme & you can find all the details about how to join in HERE.

Today's topic is Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2017. (Yes I realise I'm posting this on a Wednesday but I already had something scheduled for yesterday!)

  1. Wildfire - Ilona Andrews - This is kind of a cheat since I have an arc so I've already read it (twice!) but I'm such a fangirl of everything Ilona and Gordon write and this series is my favourite so I HAD to include it!
  2. Silver Silence - Nalini Singh - I'd also include Archangel's Viper on this list because I adore both the Psy-Changeling and the Guild Hunter series.
  3. The Scorpion Trap - Pippa DaCosta - If you like the sound of Egyptian gods roaming around modern day New York then you HAVE to give this series a try!
  4. Godsgrave - Jay Kristoff - Nevernight was one of my favourite books last year so this one was a no brainer, I can't wait for more of Mia and Mr Kindly's adventures.
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition - J.K. Rowling & Jim Kay - I've read this whole series a million times but it'll never be too many and these illustrated editions are absolutely gorgeous.
  6. The Language of Thorns - Leigh Bardugo - I love the Grisha world so I'm excited to go back to it with this collection of short stories. I'm also really looking forward to her upcoming superhero book Wonder Woman: War Bringer.
  7. Renegades - Marissa Meyer - I'm really excited we're seeing a trend of superhero books this year, I've enjoyed everything else Marissa Meyer has written so I have very high hopes for this new duology.
  8. Artemis - Andy Weir - I loved The Martian so Artemis jumped to the top of my wish list the minute I heard about it.
  9. La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman - I read the Dark Materials series when it was first released, in fact I've reread it too many times to count over the years so I'm thrilled he's decided to return to this world.
  10. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns - Julie C Dao - Not only is the cover for this one beautiful but it's also described as "The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend" and I can't possibly resist a blurb like that!

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Review: White Hot - Ilona Andrews

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm . . . and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada's "talent." But there's no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice . .

Hidden Legacy Series:
Burn for Me
White Hot
Diamond Fire (Novella)
Sapphire Flames

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

I do not have the words to say how amazing this book is, honestly 5000 stars would not be a high enough rating! If you enjoyed Burn for Me you aren't even going to know what to do with yourself after you finish White Hot, it left me absolutely desperate for Wildfire so its a very good job that they're being released so close together.

I loved every single minute of this story, the chemistry between Rogan and Nevada blows my mind, let's face it EVERYTHING about Rogan hits my hot spots - there wasn't a scene with him in it that didn't have me swooning and fanning myself! He's an intense, brooding, full on alpha male who is as hot as Hades and has a slightly vulnerable squishy centre that you only spot if you look hard enough.

The world building was great before but OMG there is so much more to discover in this book, about the different kinds of magic, about Nevada's abilities and her family history, about the crazy magical creatures that can be pulled out of the arcana and even about the way the different Houses handle their disputes. I have to say that Ilona & Gordon Andrews write the BEST female characters and families you'll ever come across. Nevada is so strong and kickass but she still has a lot to learn about herself and her magic and I love getting to discover what she's capable of right alongside her. Her sisters and cousins get their chance to shine in this book and I'm really curious to find out more about all of their different magical abilities in the future. I also loved the addition of Cornelius to the main cast of characters, his animal sidekicks are wonderful and the ninja ferrets are utterly priceless.

White Hot has everything you could hope for: fun family banter, amazing chemistry between Nevada and Rogan, enemies who always seem to be one step ahead and who are willing to pull out all the stops to hurt our heroes. You'll be shocked one moment and swooning the next only to be watching in terror seconds later as you worry that all your favourite characters might not survive their latest adventure. One thing I guarantee is that you'll want to go back to the first page and start all over again the minute you finish it. I've already read it FIVE times and it's not even been published yet! I think it's safe to say that I'm addicted to this series, Ilona and Gordon were already my favourite authors but this series takes them to a whole new level and my obsession knows no bounds.

I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite quotes just to whet your appetite further:

A tall man was striding from the far end of the hallway. He wore the black robe and it flared around him, the wings of a raven about to take flight. He walked like he owned the building and he'd spotted an intruder in his domain. Magic boiled around him, vicious and lethal, so potent I could feel it from 30 yards away. He wasn't a man, he was an elemental force, a thunderstorm clad in black about to unleash its fury.


I finally understood why he was called Mad Rogan. It wasn't because he was insane. It was because he drove you nuts with sheer frustration.

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Saturday 27 May 2017

Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Carousel Book - Lewis Carroll & John Tenniel

This gorgeous edition of Lewis Carroll's famous children's classic is a fabulous book that opens out into a carousel shape, showing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in six visually enchanting 3-dimensional scenes. Using original artwork by Sir John Tenniel and an abridged version of Lewis Carroll's original text, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Carousel Book is a delightful introduction to the story for younger readers.

Peep into the story as Alice falls down the rabbit hole, grows and shrinks, meets the Cheshire Cat, joins the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, plays croquet with the Duchess, and attends the trial of the Knave of Hearts.

Visit The Lewis Carroll Society website for more information.

I'm such a huge fan of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and this really is a gorgeous edition. The book opens out into a Carousel shape made up of six three dimensional scenes from the story. At only six double pages it doesn't include the full text of the story but each scene has a few lines of text which tell the main events related to that illustration.

You'll find all of your favourite characters in here from Alice and the White Rabbit to the Cheshire Cat, the caterpillar, the guests of the Mad Hatter's tea party and the Queen of Hearts with her playing card courtiers.

This is a lovely book to read with children or even to display on your shelves and I spot something new every time I look at the illustrations. I'll include a few pictures below to give you an idea what to expect:

Source: Birthday present from Sammee @ I Want To Read That

Other Reviews:
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Friday 26 May 2017

Review: Blade Bound - Chloe Neill

The thrilling final installment of Chloe Neill’s New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series sees a sinister sorcery advancing across Chicago, and it may usher in the fall of Cadogan House…

Since the night of her brutal attack and unwilling transformation to vampire, Merit’s stood as Sentinel and protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House. She's saved the Windy City from the forces of darkness time and again with her liege and lover, Ethan Sullivan, by her side.

When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire seemingly under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have ever imagined. As a malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It’s her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves.

Chicagoland Vampires Series:
Some Girls Bite
Friday Night Bites
Twice Bitten
Hard Bitten
Drink Deep
Biting Cold
House Rules
Biting Bad
High Stakes (Novella in the Kicking It anthology)
Howling for You (Novella)
Wild Things
Blood Games
Lucky Break (Novella)
Dark Debt
Midnight Marked
Phantom Kiss (Novella)
Blade Bound
Slaying It (Novella)

Heirs of Chicagoland Series:
(Spin off set approximately 20 years on from the end of the Chicagoland Vampires series)
Wild Hunger
Wicked Hour

Visit Chloe Neill's website for more information

Its always a sad thing when a series you love comes to an end so Blade Bound is one of those bittersweet books that you almost don't want to read because once its over it's really OVER. I've been a fan of the Chicagoland Vampires for so many years now and I've loved every minute of it. Merit is such a brilliant character and I love her relationship with Ethan. They've learnt a lot both as individuals and as a couple and they've faced all kinds of dangers along the way. I guess it's probably about time that they got to actually enjoy their happily ever after but I still wasn't ready to say goodbye to them.

If you have to leave a series behind you it's definitely best to go out when it's still on a high note though and Chloe Neill has achieved that here. I don't want to say too much about the plot but I'll give you a little hint - there might be a wedding (but only if they survive the hen and bachelor nights first!). Of course bad guys don't take time off for festivities so Merit and Ethan are still up against the clock trying to bring down the mastermind who has been the cause of so many problems over the last few books.

Blade Bound is full of action, there's plenty of the witty banter and humour that I've come to expect from this series and we get to catch up with all of our favourite characters. I'm sad that it's over but what a ride it's been & I know this is a series I'll be rereading in the future. Even better is the fact that Chloe Neill has announced a spin off series! I'm not going to say who the main characters are in this review because it would be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't read Blade Bound so you'll have to investigate yourselves for more information but I'm very excited by the direction things seem to be going. The first book in the spin off is called Wild Hunger and I believe it will be out sometime next year - it's definitely going straight to the top of my wish list the minute I find an official release date!

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Thursday 25 May 2017

Book Trailer: Tell the Wind and Fire - Sarah Rees Brennan

I've been browsing YouTube book trailers recently & I thought it would be fun to start highlighting some of the books that I really want to read but haven't quite got around to yet. Some of these have been on my to read pile for months (or even years!) but these trailers make me want to read them ASAP.

I loved Sarah Rees Brennan's Demons Lexicon trilogy but for some reason I've never got around to her standalone book Tell the Wind and Fire. My only excuse is that my to read pile is currently the size of a small mountain but I know I'm not the only bookworm with that issue.

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Review: Defy the Stars - Claudia Gray

A stunning blend of action-packed science fiction and love against the odds. Perfect for fans of the DIVERGENT series.

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Constellation Series:
Defy the Stars
Defy the Worlds (2018)

Visit Claudia Gray's website for more information

Noemi was born and raised on the planet Genesis, an Earth colony planet far across the galaxy. Genesis was supposed to be a new home that settlers from Earth could locate to now that their planet is practically inhabitable but the colonists have found their own paradise and they aren't willing to let citizens from Earth ruin everything they've worked so hard to create. If there is one thing humans are good at it's stripping a planet of all it's natural resources and destroying it from the ground up and Genesis are determined to stop that happening on their own planet. Genesis have been at war with Earth for years and they've suffered huge casualties, not helped by the fact that Earth have build mech warriors to do their fighting for them. The colonists stand no chance against an army of robots so their only option is to try and destroy the gateway that allows the enemy ships to reach them.

Noemi is on a practice run with the rest of her squadron when they are caught by a surprise influx of enemy ships. When her closest friend is badly injured Noemi is forced to take refuge on an abandoned Earth ship in search for medical supplies. It's not until she boards the ship that she discovers it wasn't quite empty after all. Abel is a mech who was accidentally left behind when his ship was damaged and he's spent 30 years trapped and waiting for rescue. The last thing he expected was for his rescuer to be one of the enemy but his programming insists he follow the orders of the highest ranking human on the ship and as Noemi is the only human on board that puts her squarely in charge. It doesn't take long for Noemi to realise that Abel might be the key to Genesis winning the war against Earth but the more time she spends with him the more she starts to realise that he isn't just an ordinary mech and perhaps there is a flaw in her plan after all.

I have to admit it took me a little while to get fully sucked into this story but by the time I got a few chapters in I was completely hooked. Noemi and Abel are both great characters in their own way, Noemi is fierce and willing to sacrifice anything to save her people while Abel is so much more than a simple robot. Abel is one of a kind, he was built to experience things the way humans do and he grows and learns just like any other person. As she gets to know him Noemi starts asking herself all sorts of questions about what it means to be human and whether a manmade artificial intelligence can actually have a soul. I loved watching these two grow as they got to know each other better, they started out as enemies but gradually learn to respect each other as they work side by side to achieve a common goal. There are hints of a romance which could have been weird but Abel was so human like in his mannerisms that it was easy to forget that he's actually a robot inside.

Defy the Stars is mostly an adventure story though, Noemi and Abel travel to several different planets as they work together trying to stop the war between Earth and Genesis and they meet lots of interesting characters along the way. The story was fast paced and there was always something new happening to keep me on my toes. I don't want to say much more but there are some great twists and this is the kind of story that will stick with you long after you've finished reading because it will really make you think about some of the issues raised. I absolutely love the main characters and its surprisingly easy to ship a romance between a human girl and a mech boy so I can't wait to see how their story continues in the next book!

Source: Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review

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Monday 22 May 2017

Crafting Corner: Book Folding Art inspired by Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson Series (2nd Design)

You may remember I've already done a book fold inspired by Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series of a wolf howling at the moon to represent the werewolves of the series and Adam in particular but I wanted to make a present for a friend who is also a huge fan of the series and I didn't want to use a design that she's seen before. I also thought that since Mercy is the main character of the series it's only fair that she gets a book fold to represent her.

For anyone unfamiliar with the series Mercy is a coyote shifter and she has a tattoo of a coyote paw print so that seemed like the obvious choice for a pattern and I absolutely love the way it turned out.

I love them even more when I see the two designs next to each other though! The paw print has been given away now but I'm definitely going to make another one for my own bookcase.

What do you think? Any other Mercy Thompson series fans out there? Any suggestions for what I should make next? I would really LOVE to make a book fold for Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series, the obvious choice would be a lion to represent Curran but I can't seem to find a really good lion silhouette thats suitable for making a pattern with. I need something that has fairly simple bold lines and is easily recognisable without having too much detail but so far I'm coming up blank.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Review: Art Life - Bev Speight

Art Life is an invitation to take a creative journey - making your own fantastic art along the way. This is a completely original way to unleash your creativity, with an engaging structure based around four distinct categories for exploring ideas - line, book, traces, and marks. For each of these there are numerous projects and accessible methods for creating art, and you are encouraged to try whatever inspires you, without pressure or any preconceptions. Enjoy the element of surprise and satisfaction in creating something that evolves, rather than following a rigid plan. You will be amazed by what you can achieve.

Introducing work in every conceivable medium with sensational art and new photos, this book will let you enjoy the creative process, relax, and enjoy the art escape.

Visit the Bev Speight's website for more information

Art Life isn't an instruction manual and it doesn't give you in depth instructions on how to complete different art projects. Instead what it aims to do is inspire you to try out new techniques and experiment with art in a way you might never have tried before. You don't need to be a professional artist to take inspiration from this book, Bev Speight has focused on ideas that can be achieved fairly easily and in most cases using items you probably already have in your home and garden. You won't need to buy a huge amount of expensive equipment to get started but I think flicking through the pages will leave you eager to get experimenting.

The book is split into 4 different journeys, the first is Line which focuses on taking inspiration from your surroundings, making drawings from one continuous line which you could the go on to recreate using wire or string and things like creating geometric designs using different coloured tape.

Journey two is Book and this was probably my favourite section of all because it focuses on creating art out of old books which is something I already love doing. There are just so many ways you can cut or fold book pages to create sculptures and I'm definitely looking forward to experimenting more using ideas I've seen in this book.

Journey Three is called Traces and it's all about leaving your mark, be that in paint with homemade brushes using bits of twig or feathers or by creating your own blocks to use as prints, you could even experiment with ink or coffee or wine rather than paint. This section is all about texture and thinking outside the box, give yourself the freedom to experiment and remember that you don't always have to use normal paint brushes when fingers or toes or the sole of an old shoe might work even better.

The final journey is Paper which focuses on making collages and experimenting with different types of paper. Cut out facial features from magazines and mix them up in unusual ways or take a single image, cut it into strips and rearrange the pieces to distort the picture. Play around with different shapes and colours and just see what you can come up with.

If the author's goal is to inspire people to go out and try new things then I'd say she's achieved that 100%. Flicking through this book gave me so many ideas and there are things I'd never have thought about trying otherwise. I can't wait to get started!

Source: Received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review

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Saturday 20 May 2017

Review: Endgame - Ann Aguirre

Regret nothing.

Sirantha Jax has the J-gene, which permits her to "jump" faster-than-light ships through grimspace. She loves nothing more than that rush, but the star roads have to wait . . .

Her final mission takes her to La'heng, a planet subjugated during first contact. Sine then, the La'hengrin homeworld has been occupied by foreign conquerors.

All that's about to change.

Now, as part of a grassroots resistance, Tax means to liberate the La'hengrin. But political intrigue and guerrilla warfare are new to her, and this will be the most dangerous game she's ever played - involving spies and conspiracies, a war of weapons and hearts. And not everyone is guaranteed to make it out alive . . .

Sirantha Jax Series:

Dred Chronicles:

Visit Ann Aguirre's website for more information

After Aftermath I was a little nervous about reading Endgame, I was worried about the direction certain things went and I wasn't happy at what seemed to be turning into a love triangle between Sirantha, March and Vel. As it turns out I'm actually quite glad that I did read it, if nothing else it means I have closure on the series and there were things I really enjoyed about the story.

To start with the positives I was really pleased to see Sirantha follow through on her promise to Loras to help him free the La'hengrin. They had been treated horrendously by humanity and have been suffering ever since we decided to meddle in their biology so it was great to see Sirantha step up to do something about it. I enjoyed watching Loras lead the rebellion, they're in the middle of an all out war so things aren't easy for any of them but Loras has come a long way from the beginning of the series. Vel as always stands out as a brilliant character and I love the humour that Baby Z always brings to the show.

I'd been really angry with the way things ended between Sirantha and March in the previous book so I was pleased that they manage to turn things around here. At the same time though I do think the way things were resolved just made the drama from the last book feel even more forced and just a cheap way to tug at readers heart strings. If there is one thing I really think ruined this series it's the constant issues between the main couple. They were absolutely fantastic in the first couple of books but from there onwards it's been one thing after another keeping them apart and putting blocks between them. Vel has been one of my favourite characters since the moment he was introduced but I love him as a friend for Sirantha and I think their relationship got far too complicated and blurred a few too many lines for me. I know they've never actually crossed the line completely but I'd have enjoyed it much more if they'd been firm friends and allies all the way through. I just reached the point where I struggled to believe Sirantha's proclamations of undying love for March because she always treated him badly. He wasn't much better at times but at least he usually had better reasons.

I also missed the wider scope of the earlier books, it was so much fun to see them travelling through space and visiting different planets so I got a little bored when they spent the entire book in one place. They had an important mission but I'd have liked it to tie up a little faster and for us to actually see them start their next adventure. Especially because that would have given us a chance to catch up with characters like Dina and Hit who were completely absent from this book. Considering what major characters they were early on it was disappointing that we didn't get the chance to catch up with them one last time in the final book of the series.

Overall for me this series started out amazingly strong and fizzled out a bit in the last couple of books. I still think it was well worth reading, particularly for the AMAZING early books though and I'm looking forward to trying the spin off series too.

Source: Purchased

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Friday 19 May 2017

Excerpt Reveal: Roar - Cora Carmack

From New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack comes her debut young adult fantasy, ROAR! Releasing June 13, 2017, ROAR takes readers on an adventure filled with charismatic characters in an enthralling world sure to keep them turning the pages. Don’t miss the amazing excerpt below!

About ROAR (Stormheart #1):
New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack's young adult debut: Roar.
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora's been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

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There was a hole in her chest, an awful, gaping hole that screamed like she wanted to. Like a cyclone, it seemed to suck up everything in its path until her knees were curled into her chest and her body hunched, and she just kept collapsing in and in and in. Suddenly unable to breathe, she clawed at the beaded fastenings that connected her headdress and necklace. One of her fingernails bent and splintered as she scrabbled for the hooks; when she could not find them, she took hold of the beaded cord and pulled until it broke, beads scattering across the stone floor around her.

The headdress tipped sideways, tugging painfully on her hair. Again and again, she pulled at the ties until her palms felt raw and beads littered the floor around her. The headdress began to sag, and she was nearly done, nearly free when someone stepped through the archway, and she froze.


Thank the skies. The dark-haired servant held an urn full of steaming water in her hands, and she stared in horror as if she had stumbled upon a monster rather than a crying girl. Nova had been Rora’s closest friend before she cut herself off from everyone at her mother’s command. Girls with secrets the size of Rora’s could not have friends. Nova took a step forward, paused, then knelt down, her large brown eyes carefully blank.

“Should I call for your guards? The queen?” Nova asked.

“No!” Softer, Aurora said, “No. Please don’t tell anyone.”

Once upon a time, Nova had kept all her secrets. Now the two rarely even looked at each other in the eye when their paths crossed, and it was all Aurora’s fault.

“Your Highness? What happened?”

Rora shook her head and returned to tugging at the headdress still tangled in her hair. She couldn’t say the words aloud, couldn’t let anyone see how much of a fool she was. Aurora had become accustomed to her shortcomings as a Stormling, as an heir. But she’d thought she had her mother’s strength, tenacity, and intelligence. But maybe that was wishful thinking. Maybe she was altogether…inadequate.

“Stop, Princess. You’re hurting yourself.” Nova put the water aside, crawled forward, and grabbed Rora’s wrists. “Aurora, stop.”

All the years spent missing their friendship came rushing back, and she froze at the sound of her name. Not Princess. Not Your Highness. Aurora. But the moment she stopped moving, it all came crashing down on her. Her naïve plan to kiss him, to experience something real. She should have known that her future would hold only more lies. As if she knew anything about real life, real anything. She lived in this palace, protected and pampered and put away like a doll on a shelf, too fragile for anything but appearances. And it seemed that’s all she would ever be.

Cassius wanted control of the city for himself. He thought he’d have to fool her to do it, but the moment the world found out that Rora had no magic, he’d become the ruler in truth, and she’d be the puppet at his side. He wouldn’t have to feign interest in her then. He wouldn’t need her at all.

She wound her arms about her legs and rested her forehead on her knees. Nova moved closer, and Rora sat still and silent as the girl worked to remove the headdress. Her old friend had grown into a beautiful young woman—flawless bronze skin, shiny black hair, stunning features. She’d recently begun assisting the royal seamstress in addition to her position as a maid. She probably had more friends than she could count. Aurora could not help imagining how different her life would be now fi she had never become heir.

The headdress finally gave way, and Nova slipped it off and laid it on the stone floor beside them.

“Tell me what happened.”

Rora leaned back against the wall. It was cool against her abused scalp, and she muttered, “Nothing happened.”

At least she had that much. She hadn’t kissed that beast. But what she had done felt worse. She had hoped. And hope broke more hearts than any man ever could.

“Should I get someone? A friend?”

Rora let out a bleak, cold laugh. As if she had any of those. Softer, she said, “I don’t want to see anyone. I just need this dress off. The makeup too. I need to breathe, and I can’t do it through all this mess.”

“I can do that. I came to help remove the headdress and gown. Stand up and we’ll go to your room. Everything will be fine, Your Highness.”

She didn’t tell her old friend how wrong she was, not as she peeled the dress off her and unlaced the corset. Not as she wiped away the powder that was smudged and striped on Rora’s face, thanks to falling tears. Another maid came in with more steaming water for a bath and Rora let them clean her up, wishing it was as easy to wipe away the last few hours.

She sat in the bath until the water grew cold and her skin shriveled like dying fruit. She had to face the facts. The Rage season was coming, as was this sham of a wedding. And she didn’t know how to fight it any more than she knew how to stop a storm.

But she would not give Cassius any more opportunities to see her vulnerable. Nor was she giving up. If there were no other way, she would marry Cassius.

But she had six days. Wars had been won, empires toppled, and cities leveled in less time. If there was a way out of this, Rora would find it.

About Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Since she was a teenager, her favorite genre to read has been fantasy, and now she’s thrilled to bring her usual compelling characters and swoon-worthy romance into worlds of magic and intrigue with her debut YA fantasy, Roar. Her previous adult romance titles include the Losing It, Rusk University, and Muse series. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss. But she can always be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Thursday 18 May 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

New Cover
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan.

Mariko has always known that being a woman means she's not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden - the emperor's son - Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued... or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.

Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan's hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Flame in the Mist Duology:
Flame in the Mist
Okami (Free Short Story)
Yumi (Free Short Story)
Smoke in the Sun

Visit Renee Ahdieh's website for more information

I absolutely loved Flame in the Mist, I'm definitely putting it in my favourite books of the year category and I'm already desperately awaiting the sequel. Renee Ahdieh's writing is so beautiful and she completely pulled me into her world from the first page. This story has obviously taken some inspiration from Mulan but it's set in Feudal Japan rather than in China and the story doesn't follow exactly the same path as the original. There is enough to remind you of Mulan but it equally holds up as a story in its own right.

Mariko has spent her whole life knowing that her only real task in life is to marry whoever her parents deem to be the best match for her. No matter how much she loves studying and no matter how skilled she is at alchemy her future has already been mapped out for her, especially now her parents have agreed to a political marriage to the Emperor's illegitimate son. She is on her way to the city to prepare for her marriage when her party is ambushed by The Black Clan, a notorious group of rebels who are considered a dangerous threat. When Mariko is left alone in the woods with no way back home and no idea who she can trust she decides to disguise herself as a boy and infiltrate The Black Clan to try and find out who paid them to kill her. When she finally manages to find the rebels she's in for quite a shock though, nothing is what it first seemed and the more she learns about them the more she starts to question everything she's ever been told.

While Mariko is infiltrating The Black Clan we also follow her twin brother Kenshin as he searches for his sister. Kenshin is a fierce samurai warrior who puts honour and decency above all else but he will do whatever it takes to find Mariko and bring her home safely, even if it means crossing lines he never would have considered before. I loved how multifaceted all of these characters were, nothing is black and white and they each have complicated motivations for their actions. Alongside Mariko and Kenshin there are some fabulous side characters who add lots of depth to the story, and Renee Ahdieh's descriptive writing will have you smelling the cherry blossoms as you read.

This is a story full of secrets and betrayal, everyone is hiding something and there are so many different plots going on it can be hard to keep track of them. There is just a hint of romance which I'm pretty hopeful will be expanded upon in the second book, I'm not going to say too much but there are several potential couples I'm already rooting for and there wasn't a single case of insta-love in sight. As much as I enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn I think Renee Ahdieh has stepped things up a gear here and I can't wait to see how the story ends.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
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Original Cover
Hardback / Paperback / Kindle:

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Book Trailer: Queen of Hearts - Colleen Oakes

I've been browsing YouTube book trailers recently & I thought it would be fun to start highlighting some of the books that I really want to read but haven't quite got around to yet. Some of these have been on my to read pile for months (or even years!) but these trailers make me want to read them ASAP.

Its fair to say I'm a little bit obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, I read the original books over and over again as a child and now I love to discover retellings or new twists on the story so Colleen Oakes' Queen of Hearts series sounds right up my street. I've had the first two books for at least a year now so I really should read them asap.

Dorothy Must Die meets Alice in Wonderland!

This is not a story of happily ever after – it’s the twisted YA origin story of an infamous villain…

Dinah is a princess, the future Queen of Hearts, who will one day reign over Wonderland. Unaware of the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and to reign with the boy she loves.

But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, Dinah is launched into the dangers of Wonderland. She must stay one step ahead of her enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown, it will be off with her head!

Evil is brewing in Wonderland, and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself.

The first in an epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains – the Queen of Hearts.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Review: Saga Volume 4 - Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

From the Eisner Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private Eye, Pride of Baghdad) and Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, Thor), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. As they visit a strange new world and encounter even more adversaries, baby Hazel finally becomes a toddler, while her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana struggle to stay on their feet.

Saga Series:
Saga Volume 1
Saga Volume 2
Saga Volume 3
Saga Volume 4
Saga Volume 5
Saga Volume 6
Saga Volume 7
Saga Volume 8
Saga Volume 9

Visit Brian K Vaughan's website or Fiona Staples' website for more information

After escaping from Quietus Alana and Marco just want to find somewhere safe to raise their daughter, now they're in hiding rather than running for their lives they're left to deal with all the normal family pressures of raising a toddler. Alana is working long hours in a job she hates trying to earn enough money to support them while Marco is a stay at home father who adores spending time with his daughter but misses his wife. Their relationship is strained and they both make some stupid decisions so it remains to be seen whether they can work through their issues. Meanwhile Prince Robot's baby is born and kidnapped, Gwendolyn, Sophie and Lying Cat are searching for a cure for The Will and his sister is out for vengeance.

I'm not going to lie I found this instalment of the Saga series hard to read at times. Marco and Alana both make some stupid choices and there were times I just wanted to shake some sense into the pair of them. Marco almost makes the ultimate mistake and my stomach was actually in knots when I was reading those scenes but that just goes to show how invested I am in this series and how much I care about the characters. Hazel is even more adorable now she's able to interact with her family and I love the family's new pet, Lying Cat and Sophie continue to be favourite characters and even Gwendolyn has grown on me over the last couple of volumes. I'm totally addicted to this series and can't wait to see where the adventure takes us next.

A few of my favourite scenes:

How cute is toddler Hazel!?

Things may be hard for the family but I love them when they're like this

A prince is born

Meet Friendo, the new family pet

This group is badass

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Monday 15 May 2017

Review: Damon - J.C. Daniels

Exclusive short story for J.C. Daniels / Shiloh Walker supporters on Patreon:

This is a prequel to the Kit Colbana series featuring Damon

The Colbana Files:
A Stroke of Dumb Luck (Free Short Story)
Bladed Magic (Short Story)
Damon (Novella)
Blade Song
Blade Song: Special Anniversary Edition
Night Blade
Broken Blade
Edged Blade
Misery's Way (Novella)
Shadowed Blade
Haunted Blade

Visit J.C. Daniels' website for more information

Damon is a short story set in the Colbana Files world and its only available to Shiloh Walker's (aka J.C. Daniels) supporters on Patreon. You can sign up for as little as a dollar so it doesn't cost a fortune but it's a great way to help out an author you love and you only pay per story so you're always getting something for your money.

If you're a fan of the Colbana Files then you're going to love this novella, it's set just before Blade Song (although I think you'll enjoy it more if you're already familiar with the characters so I'd recommend reading it after that book) and gives us the chance to see what Damon's life was like before he met Kit. We get to find out why nobody worries when Doyle first goes missing, see more of the friendship between Damon and Chang as well as visit Alisdair and the wolf pack.

I enjoyed seeing certain things from Damon's point of view and this was a nice little teaser that's left me even more eager to read the next book in the series.

Source: Purchased via Patreon sponsorship

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Winner: 3000th Blog Post Giveaway

I'm excited to announce the winner of my latest giveaway today with the help of Rafflecopter.

You've won a book of your choice from the Book Depository (maximum value £10)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Alina! I've sent you an email asking for your address and your choice of book, as soon as I have that information I'll get the book ordered for you.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to help me celebrate my 3000th blog post! I'm sorry you couldn't all win but I'll have more giveaways coming soon to give you another chance :o)

Saturday 13 May 2017

Review: The Seafarer's Kiss - Julia Ember

Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s fortress. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

Seafarer's Duology:
The Seafarer's Kiss
The Navigator's Touch

Visit Julia Ember's website for more information.

Nineteen year old mermaid Ersel just wants to be free, she longs to escape from the merfolk fortress and explore the world. For years she made plans with her childhood friend Havamal but then he betrayed her by joining the king's guard and she's now more alone than ever before. When she finds Ragna, a human girl who was stranded on the glacier after her boat sunk, Ersel's dreams begin to change but if she doesn't make her escape soon she may never get the chance.

The Seafarer's Kiss is a bisexual retelling of The Little Mermaid with added Norse mythology thrown in for good measure and I enjoyed every minute of it. I guess I should probably confess that I've never seen the Disney version of the Little Mermaid so I can't compare it to the animation but I did have a book of the story as a child and there were enough similarities in this story for me to easily see the connection. It isn't a full retelling though, it uses the original story as inspiration and then goes off in it's own direction. Adding in Norse mythology was a genius idea and I especially loved that Loki was described as having both male and female attributes - their form changes every time we see them and they are only ever described in gender neutral terms. Its so rare to come across non binary characters in YA (although if you're looking for more I'd happily recommend Laura Lam's Micha Grey series which has an intersex main character) and there is also a lesbian romance so the diversity included is brilliant.

The world Ersel lives in is very patriarchal, the king is a tyrant and due to dwindling births the women are prized mainly for their fertility. When they come of age the mermaids attend a Grading ceremony where they find out how fertile they are and then the mermen fight over who they want to mate. Once mated the mermaids are pretty much kept in seclusion while they protect the eggs and try to hatch young and Ersel can't imagine anything worse than being trapped inside the fortress forever more. I really loved Havamal's character, especially in the beginning. It's obvious that he loves Ersel and wants to protect her but their dreams are so different that they could never be happy together. I was really angry when he forced her into a horrible situation but thankfully he redeemed himself later on and I'd be quite happy to read another book set in this world so we could see him get his own happily ever after.

The world building was really well done and I enjoyed Ersel and Ragna's romance. I'll admit it all happens a little quickly because this is a fairly short novel so there were times when I think it would have been even better if the story had been expanded, especially towards the end of the book. I really wanted to know what happened at the fortress while Ersel was in seclusion but the story just jumped ahead several weeks. I also thought we could have done with seeing Ersel and Ragna spend a little more time together to make their romance fully believable. If I have one complaint it was about the physical violence between the two near the end though, I didn't think it added anything to the story, in fact it soured their romance a little because there wasn't time for the issue to be fully addressed. I get that it was only one incident but they both take a swing at each other and blood is drawn so that is a major warning sign in any relationship.

Overall I really enjoyed this story though, it was a unique spin on the Little Mermaid and it kept me interested from beginning to end. I'll definitely be watching out for more from this author in the future and I need to pick up a copy of her debut Unicorn Tracks too.

Source: Received from Interlude Press in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

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