Tag Archive | Young Adult

Learning to Live, (Infinite Love 1), Kira Adams

Learning to Live, (Infinite Love 1), Kira Adams

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: YA/NA Romance,

I rarely read YA novels, I find it hard to relate the the characters but this had the underog theme that does appeal to me so as its on KU I decided I’d try it.
I was pleasantly surprised, the characters weren’t juvenile and silly, the thing that puts me off many YA reads ( though I’ve read books were people in their 30’s act like YA). Older teens I guess, that makes a difference, these are mostly either side of 18 and that extra maturity shows.
The mean girls – I love those charactes, and they were creatively mean to poor Ciera. I loved her, she was head down and ignore, and of course having been bullied much the same many, many years ago I could relate. Report them as everyone says? OK, then who’s going to be around when they come at you even harder? So we just keep heads down and do our best to avoid bullies. Its wrong, they win that way, but in practical terms it needs adults to be watching, to take action.

Ciera has home problems too, her widowed mum and two much younger siblings don’t have much money, and she works after school to help out. Not only that but later we learn she has her own issues to deal with.
Topher was one of those who didn’t outwardly join in the bullying, but didn’t see what was wrong with it, and didn’t do anything to stop it. Apart from her friend Mack Ciera is alone at school, until an incident with the bulles prompts someone to step in.
From there things change, not always for the better, but it makes Topher look at his own actions, and I thought, finally, he can see whats in front of him. Of course that means standing up against his friends, the top group, the alpha predators, and what will happen then?

Its a sweet and moving love story, and has a huge surprise I didn’t see, but with hindsight there were clues. It did make me cry, Ciera was so brave and I so felt for her and her family. I was luckier than her when faced with similar, but could empathise with the scary side and what she was facing. You’d think fate had put the family through enough without this.
The story covers some heavy issues, not just the bullying. It was well done, well handled, not just a simple bullying school love story, and had surprising depth to it.
I won’t suddenly beome a YA lover, but it proves some well written YA books can have a wider target.

Stars: Four, surprised me how much I enjoyed it. I’m actually going to borrow the next book from KU just to see where things go, although this book is a stand alone and complete.

 

The Iron Raven, Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven, Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, Book 1) by [Julie Kagawa]

Genre: Teens & YA, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Oh how I wanted to like this story. I’ve not read any of Julie’s work, but have recently read several excellent YA books.
Sadly this didn’t work for me. Its very well written, and I can see that others love it, but I just couldn’t connect with it. I put it aside a few times and came back to it as I thought maybe it was this strange time we’re living in, that has affected my concentration and reading, but unfortunately it still wasn’t a good fit for me. 😦
I stopped about a third of the way through, knowing it just wasn’t going to suit me. I’m gutted, I was so looking forward to getting my teeth into a new trilogy, but that’s the way it goes.
Not all stories appeal, however well written.

Stars: Two, a story others love but which didn’t connect with me. NB: I only read to just past 30%.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Chalice and the Crown, Kassandra Flamouri

The Chalice and the Crown, Kassandra Flamouri

The Chalice and the Crown by [Kassandra Flamouri]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Teens and YA

I’m way past the target age range, but reviews suggested that this book would still appeal and I’ve loved other fantasy reads aimed at this age group. Sadly I’m on the fence about this one.

I really liked the sound of this, a very different fantasy read and was excited to start. I found Sasha hard to like though, she’s really not a particularly nice girl to those around her. I know she’s worried about becoming ill like her mother, but that’s more recent and her behaviour seems to have always been like this.
I was puzzled at how things changed, how she actually got pulled in to the other world, it seemed one page she was in this world, worrying about illness, feeling strange and then she was in the next, though her body remained here. I didn’t see the transition, needed a bit more detail there.
Then she’s in a horrible situation, has become a thrall, among thousands more. For a time she simply doesn’t realise who or what she is but slowly that changes. Even then she’s still a hard to understand person, there are flashes of when she knows there’s something wrong, but mostly she carries on. As with the best war/slave/fantasy reads there’s an underground movement though and they see Sasha as someone they can help…..

I found the writing absorbing but the actual story very difficult to follow. I didn’t wholly see how things worked, how they found potential thralls, how they pulled them in. Sasha still remained someone I found difficult to understand.
I felt this book had a lot going on, but jumped too quickly from one situation to the next without fully explaining how things happened or worked. As a reader I had to follow the text and guess. There were explanations for parts, but other things just had to be accepted and the reader just go with. Its hard to explain, the apostate for instance, this person/name just popped up without explanation of who or what he was, ( other than he lived on an island) and yet he was a fairly important part of the story.
Overall for me it was an ok read, not one I’d re-read, and one that left me with questions as I was reading that largely seemed to be unanswered. If things like that don’t bother you, then like others you may love this unique fantasy read.

Stars: Three, an on the fence read for me. I loved parts but there were too many unanswered puzzles for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin, Vic James

Bright Ruin (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 3) by [James, Vic]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I loved books one and two and was desperate to read this. These characters, this strange UK feels so real. My heart was breaking for those caught up in the Equals power struggle, their determination to keep unSkilled commoners where they feel they belong, serving Equals as slaves for ten years of their lives. There’s a section on Abi’s thoughts that’s so relevant to today’s Real Britain, not just Vic’s fantasy one. It was very resonating to me and I have to quote it.
“ Abi knew many would approve of such expulsions. This narrative fitted into the bigger lie Wittam Jardine was telling the British people. If folk felt poor, it was because of these sponging refugees, not the greed of the Equals. In the same way, those that protested against the slavedays were being cast as the lawbreakers, when it was the days themselves that were unjust.”
We have that same kind of thinking now, and I guess that’s why I was so easy to suck into Vic’s alternative Britain, and why it felt real. I could see events playing out this way, the careful manipulation of facts, the scapegoating, the laying of blame in certain quarters, and the behind the scenes atrocities that the Equals claimed were necessary to keep the peace. Or at least the status quo where the one per cent of the population flourished supported by the 99 per cent unSkilled….
We learned things about a certain character that explained why others had acted in a way that felt unusual, not what they would do willingly. I certainly hadn’t seen that as being the cause!

Jenner, I so liked him in book one, was astonished and heartbroken at his actions in book two, and here we can see his motives.
Gavar, in book one I found him cold to everyone but his daughter Libby, and finally I understood him a little better. I was so sad about Libby’s mum and wondered why he did what he did, finally there’s an explanation for his actions.
Silyen, the enigmatic character, you never really know what he’s thinking, he does things that seem heroic but for completely different reasons than ones we’d think essential, and he treats life and death very lightly. He’s extraordinarily skilled though, incredibly complex and half the time his mind is on other worlds, such as when he was with his aunt in her world while she was comatose.
That other worlds bit comes quite prominent here, and reminded me of another book I read. Annoyingly I can’t recall the title but it involved parallel worlds or dimensions, kind of like a fold in fabric reveals different layers. I got to reading about the whole real theory they could exist, that one centred around tesseract principles but there is a whole scientific ream of thinking that these could exist in many different ways.
We see much more of Abi, Luke and Dog here too and I can’t help having a soft spot for Dog. He’s done some awful things, but had atrocities perpetrated on him.

I felt at times the story got a little battle heavy, not the breathtaking displays, the actual actions but in the endless battle planning, dealing, double dealing and for me that was a bit…dull. ( and I skim read those bits* blush *) Battle planning never is my favoured parts of stories. It didn’t detract from the whole though, and I’m sure there are readers who love all that minute detail.

Its a terrific conclusion, a battle royale, full of surprises at every turn, and an heroic ending. Made me think of just what happens next, how does Britain continue, and what life holds for those we’ve come to know and love ( and hate in the case of some of them!)
That last sentence though, that last tiny action made me so, so happy 😉 for certain characters, I like to think they got a HEA.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up. How on earth was Vic going to sort this world out, how could things work out better for the unSkilled, when would all the atrocities end.
I loved the scenes with Luke, Silyen and the King. Oh, and That Kiss, it was a long time coming….

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens. Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten (The Wolves of Hemlock Hollow) by [McCorkle, Heather]

Genre:  Romance,

My first read of Heather’s novels, but I love the werewolf genre and this sounded fun.
I found it a little – well – bland I guess? It was well written, the characters were all clearly set out and the take of the werewolf genre had some fresh additions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
However I just found the story dragged, with nothing much happening until the last 20% or so. Even then I found that for a group so set in rules and hierarchy the story-line went well off track.

I couldn’t see how all these things, all these anarchist actions wouldn’t have been seen coming, if those in charge had been taking note. Its hard to see a rigid, supposedly strong and well run system fall down so badly by the actions of such inept characters.
There didn’t seem to have been much thought or planning of what would happen,  and the ones creating the mayhem were strangely lacking in intelligence and strategy.
The story-line is sound, and things like this do happen but it needed to have characters that were capable of planning and executing such a strategy for me to believe it.

Its kind of a one plot book too, in that Sonya’s transforming was a part of that overall plot. I liked Ty, apart from his manner of speaking which proved irritating after a time, but he was so laid back he was almost horizontal, which didn’t fit so well with his thoughts on throwing everything, disregarding all the rules, because he was so attracted to Sonya. I anted to say “get a grip man, its only for a couple of weeks!!” The man I thought he was would have done just that, not been mulling constantly about giving in to temptation.
Its one of those reads that feels very simplistic, not complex drama but a quick easy read. Depends what you want – and its different for everyone, for me its more often the complex drama that does it.

First books in a series have a hard task and for me this one doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the description. I’m undecided as to whether I want to continue with it. I’ll see nearer the time I guess, how much other things I’ve got on and whether I’m pulled in by the description. I’m not saying I would read more, not saying its a no go for me but I am on the fence over it.

Stars: two and a half, a good premise but it needs a bit more action and drama, a little more speed for me. Maybe in the later books?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon Book 1) by [Stevens, Sarah E.]

Genre:  General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I love paranormal/Fantasy, and wolf shifters in particular appeal to me. I was keen to read this, a first in what hopefully would turn out to be a new and fun series.
I’d made the mistake of thinking this was romance, isn’t not classed as that, simply my error and not looking carefully enough. That’s not a game-changer though, I read books other than romance too 🙂 Just that it came as a surprise to find out some things early in the story.

Its an interesting read, Sarah has put a slightly different slant on shifter practicalities and categories which was good, kept that part fresh.
The story though didn’t really work totally for me. There was just so much in it, the search for Carson’s dad, meeting the new people, finding out about werewolves and witches…Julie was incredibly blase about all the new things she was learning.
Then the murders. there was a lot of action, lots going on and I just had a hard time believing things would play out as easily as they did.
Don’t get me wrong – there was struggle, lots of it but given Julie is human and new to all this supernatural stuff she did really well. the other werewolves too has a very hard task solving the murders, they’d been cleverly done by someone who was clever and had lots of backing, and I just couldn’t see things playing out quite the way they did without Huge, Massive repercussions.
I didn’t guess who was involved til quite far on when there’s a really – to the reader- obvious clue but Julie completely misses it.

It looks like a debut novel, I can’t find any more books. Its well written but I just felt there was a little too much packed tightly into a novel that was just a bit too short for it. If the story was a bit longer so the action could have been made more realistic, and not have “Clue, and wow – here’s the Perpetrator” plots that these shorter novels need I think its one I’d love.

A first in series has a hard ask too, setting the scene, introducing new characters, and in the case of fantasy/paranormal, other types of people, and all the while leading a story to keep the readers interest. This one does OK for me, but of course will be perfect for others. That’s how it goes, we don’t all want the same thing thankfully!

Stars: Three, a good start to fiction writing, and a new series, but for me needed a little more reality and practicalities.

BTW Full/Lily: does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? For some reason she’s all I see each time Full comes into the story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Caraval, Stephanie Garber. Some Kind of Magic, Mary Ann Marlowe

Caraval,  Stephanie Garber

Caraval by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

Well, this really is a magical book, and that part I adored. Its so full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible.

Its got a YA feel to it, and yet if you like reads that are pure fantasy, full of magic, colour and impossibilities this will appeal whatever your age. For me the magic was the best part,
I liked Scarlett and the mysterious Julian, enjoyed meeting the weird and wonderful characters of Caraval, was entranced by the danger disguised as fun feel of Caraval, the way we never quite know if the dangers are real. There were plenty of unexpected events, things that totally came out of the blue and the ending…well, didn’t see that coming.

I did feel a little confused at the finish, had to go back a reread parts to fit it all together, and TBH it was a little ambiguous for me, I like things to be more defined, but then again leaving parts open mean that the reader can kind of put their own ending in 😉 if they want.
I didn’t realise there was a second book until I came to write my review, and that makes more sense of the ending, but as Caraval is over what will it be? Will it be what we’ve seen but from another perspective, or will the main players, Scarlett, Tella and Julian be part of some kind of follow up and consequences of the decisions in Caraval, and the events behind them? Will we ever know the real story about their grandmother and Legend, and who is their mother and what happened to her?
Of course the big question they’re all asking (and me) is who is Legend, what and what are his motives?

It kind of ends leaving me with more questions that I started. I want to read book two of course and I think it’ll be one of those duos where book two will make more sense of book one for me, and I’ll read both together and enjoy the story fully knowing the whole picture.

Stars: Four, a fabulous magical read, that might become a five when I’ve read book two 🙂

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Some Kind of Magic, Mary Ann Marlowe

Some Kind of Magic (Flirting with Fame) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre:  romance, women’s fiction

So, a debut book- its always a gamble not knowing what writing style you’ll get in a debut book, could be perfect for you or could be something you hate – I got lucky here, I love it. Actually I’ve had several really good, well written and fun debut reads this year.

I had several on my TBR list for review as usual, and like to read what I’m in the mood for. I passed over this a couple of times for some reason thinking that a) it was a flirty chic lit lite – I like those sometimes, when I want a bit of mind numbing, easy reading.. b) that it was some kind of fantasy read. I’d got the cover in my head which let to the chic lit connotation but all I can say was it was the work Magic in the title that caught me out.
It is a magical read, but as in wonderful, not the fantasy paranormal kind!

Having decided it was time to start this one I was soon pulled in.
There’s some great but subtle humour, I adored Eden and loved her friend who was later so star struck. I could just see that happening, when Eden and Adam are eating and Stella gets out her phone. Eden’s gentle “Stella, what did we talk about?” or words to that effect was perfect.
Eden is a “good” girl, always striving for parental praise, works hard but is cautious, ultra cautious. She has a list of “suitable”  men and tattooed musicians don’t make the grade. She’s 28 though and her mum is always setting her up with dates, dentists, doctors etc leading Eden’s list to get longer on the No column.
She loves her brother Micah, is a fervent supporter of his music and meets Adam one evening when Micah is playing. She gets chatting to him, thinking he’s interviewing for her brothers band…she’s wrong though, so very wrong 🙂

Adam, he’s an international rock god, but though she supports her brother she’s not one of those rabid followers of bands, so she knows what music she likes, but she doesn’t always know the people and stories behind it. Adam loves that about her, that she treats him as someone “normal”, isn’t fazed by him, and they have a great time, ending up to the surprise of both in a hot and steamy night.
Thus begins a torrid and erotic romance. All seems well until Eden learns about the scent she wore before meeting him….to tell or not to tell, that is the question?

I love band stories, but lately its been hard to find one that actually feels like a proper band book, that has the music and how it happens, the touring, the venues, the pressures of fame, the media intrusions and the way everything is turned into something, regardless of the truth.
This book does all that and more – it was totally unexpected. Its not a heavy dense read, but also not the chic lit lite I expected from the cover.
Its for me a perfect balance, an easy to read story, solid romance but with some real issues here, how we perceive people that are famous, the way the press warp the truth, how difficult it is to trust someone when there are huge barriers waiting to trip one up.
I loved all that, loved the romance and the way it unfolded, understood Eden and Adam, and when it all went wrong I could see both points, but of course I “know” their reasons, they don’t.
They need to trust each other. I loved the way the drama played out, was dragged along to really extend the misery of them both at the break up.
I kept wondering how – how would they get past this? What would they do? Who would make the first move?
That Was Perfect, as it covers a good part of the book, not just a couple of pages as we get so often. I love to wallow in the sad parts, to really feel that maybe they can’t work things out, even though I know of course they will.

There’s a short excerpt at the end of the beginning of book two, featuring  Eden’s brother Micah and his romance with a paparazzi …that looks to be another well written fun read and will be on my TBR list.

Stars: Five, a fabulous debut novel, perfect rock band read

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Cowboy and the Kid, Anne McAllister, For Finlay, J. Nathan

The Cowboy and the Kid, The Tanner Brother – Book 4,  Anne McAllister

The Cowboy and the Kid (Tanner Brothers Book 4) by [McAllister, Anne]

Genre:   Romance, General Fiction

I’d not read any of Anne’s novels and as she’s got so many I was really, really hoping to like this. Nothings like finding a new-to-you author with loads of lovely novels you haven’t read 😉
Sadly though this was just an OK read for me, a sweet story but one that didn’t really do much for me.

Its a small town romance, and I like those but I do need some drama, some real feelings between the leads.
Though I liked them all, I wasn’t really feeling the attraction between them, and didn’t really understand what they saw in each other. they knew of the other via school of course, but dates? ? Nope, unless you count the one where Taggart is warning her about one of the parents. I just didn’t feel the connection.

I think the biggest problem for me was they were both nice people, sweet, cute and all that, the story was gentle, Becky was a smart but precocious kid, its was all just so Nice. What I want though is drama, jealousies, problems, barriers to things working out, maybe a couple of unpleasant characters for balance and here there wasn’t any.
I see this was originally published in 1996, and maybe its been updated and rereleased, but it doesn’t feel that way, to me it feels very dated, very “clean romance” type read, and that’s fine. Millions of readers love them, they just don’t cut it for me.

If you like a sweet, non-dramatic romance, with a gentle HEA then this could be perfect for you. It’s a good book, but not one that moved me emotionally, and really just not my sort of romance.

Stars: Three, depends on what you want from your romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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For Finlay,  J. Nathan

For Finlay by [Nathan, J.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I’ve enjoyed some terrific NA reads, despite being well past NA age….I’d read Until Alex and had mixed feelings, some of it felt really slow and very YA as opposed to NA, but there was a section that had me gripped, so I requested this book hoping the writing had evolved that way.
Sadly for me its not, well not with this book. That’s fine, everyone wants different stories, different types of writing styles and this already has lots of 5* reviews so clearly its perfect for other readers.
For me though it still felt very YA, with the protagonists being very immature in their actions and reactions.

I did feel for Finlay, what an awful thing to happen, and understood perfectly her feelings towards Caden, based on what she saw. Thats it though isn’t it – its what she thought she saw not what actually was happening, there’s always more to a story…and its a long while before she discovers that.
Meanwhile she’s so attracted to Caden despite her feelings and that was fun, seeing how the boy she thought he’d be matched up to the one in front of her…or rather didn’t. There was some snappy dialogue that was fun.

He was a typical football Jock except for his anti cheating stance, I was pleased to see that, and understood his reasons. He kind of stretches credulity though when it comes to how he breaks with the girlfreind and gets with Finlay, he’s sticking to the letter of his morality but not really the essence of it. Still, its a typical YA/NA reaction, do what you want and convince yourself you’re in the right 🙂
His girlfriend was a great b itch, I do so love characters like hers. I’d have liked to have seen more of her and the nastiness, perfectly drawn, rich b itch type wanting a rich and famous husband….there’s a lot of them around.

Overall, though the story was moving forward, for me it felt a bit too YA, the characters kind of immature in their actions, and I wasn’t hooked into what was happening, gripped with the story, didn’t have the can’t-put-it-down feeling.
And of course when Caden finds out what he thinks is the truth his reaction was just that, like  a thwarted schoolchild rather than an adult.
In some ways I was kind of having mixed feelings, the drama of it was perfect, the ex was wonderfully vindictive, but believing he’d really react like that? On the say so of someone who he knows a) doesn’t like Finlay b) wants him back c) got her knowledge in a strange way, its not as if Finlay was hiding it.
Somehow that reaction felt OTT even though it led to some perfect drama. I felt the Caden we’d been led to believe in wouldn’t have acted that way, would have looked a bit harder for the truth. Still then I guess we wouldn’t have this book….

So the drama of it was perfect even though the reasons for it fell down a bit. The storyline was ok, more or less believable, but for me the characters felt a little immature at times, backed up by Caden’s reaction.
Its me more than the book, its a perfectly decent read, and has lots of readers who love it, but for me its between a three and a four star not a five. If you love typical storm in a teacup YA romances this is perfect, I need a bit more maturity in my characters and their actions though.

Stars: 3.5, a good read, perfect for others, but a bit on the YA side for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Gilded Cage, Vic James

Gilded Cage,  Vic James

Gilded Cage (The Dark Gifts Trilogy Book 1) by [James, Vic]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I’ve had a fantastic year for debut books. I try to choose all reads carefully as I hate doing low star reviews but debut reads are a shot in the dark, with only a few words to decide wither its for me or no. No previous stories to tell me authors writing style, and the type of plots he/she writes so it really is a whole bran tub surprise, but I’ve unearthed some real gems for me this year. This is one of them.

I’m not really a YA reader, except for those few stories that really are suitable for any age, such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and the Golden Lily spin off, Twilight ( of course), The Paper Magician trilogy, stories like these that appeal to anyone regardless of age.
A well written story does that, so though YA isn’t my preferred read I don’t rule anything out, especially in the Fantasy genre.

I did find this a little struggling to begin, I was intrigued but the to and fro of Millmoor and Kyneston settings took a while to adjust to, as did the fairly large cast of characters. Then throw in a world that is like the UK now and yet so not like it, that there’s a lot to take in. It works though, really well once I’d got that mentally mapped out.

I’ve read that the 1% v 99% dichotomy inspired this story, the haves and the have nots of money and power. Vic has replaced the money side with Skill, a magical talent. Those families who have it are called Equals, a very small proportion of the population, and they rule the rest.
The rest, the commoners, all have to do a ten year slave term at some point in their life, and families can do it together once the youngest child is 10. That’s what happens here, with eldest sister arranging – she thinks – for them all to do their 10 years at the large estate of Kyneston. That way they can all stay together, stay safe she hopes. But things go wrong, despite being only 16 Luke gets sent to Millmoor alone, separated from the family and against rules which say under 18’s stay with their parents.
Its like now though, a whole way of life ruled by red tape, and underscored by deceitful scheming and grasping for power – gosh you can tell which side I’m on in politics can’t you 😉

The story follows Luke and what happens to him, alternating to what’s going on with the rest of his family and the other inhabitants at Kyneston.
We don’t really see much about Luke’s parents but sisters Abi and Daisy figure largely. Daisy at 10 is a kind of nanny to the Heir’s illegitimate child Libby, and she adores her. Heir Gavar seems to be a strange character, a ball of anger, hates everyone it seems and yet plays the game, wants the power that will come when he succeeds his father and yet is a ball of mush when it comes to Libby and strangely gentle with Daisy.
Jenner, the middle son, is on the almost unique position of having no Skill despite coming from a strongly skilled family. Abi works with him on the admin side of running Kyneston, and we see a slow developing regard for each other growing. Forbidden of course, Equals never get involved with Commoners, its a disaster, as shown by what happened with Libby and her mum. Despite being the only grandchild her place is on sufferance only, and she’s mostly kept out of sight of the other Equals and not really spoken about.
Then there’s Silyen….he is seriously strange and yet – I can’t help feeling a soft spot for him. He’s very solitary, with the constant grasping for power no-one really seems happy, to have friends, to be close to family but he seems even more alone than the others. There’s an air of mystery about him and I feel there’s lots more to come from him.

So, in a society like this, with all its abuses there’s bound to be a revolt. So far the cruel and rigid ways have kept things controlled, but there’s a feeling of change brewing and this book heralds the start. It ends with a real – “I want the next book now, dammit” feeling for me, so I really hope books two and three are progressing well!!

Its an absorbing world, full of magic, full of cruelty, on both large and smnall scales, and the cruelty isn’t just confined to Equals, but also those commoners who’ve risen through the ranks, a -rse kissng their way into positions of power….and yet the characters are not one sided but multi faceted, so no-one is quite what they seem and the fun is working out who is really who, what place they will play in the future, and just how things are going to go, not just on the large scale but on the small one. I’m full of questions, what’s going to happen to Luke, what about Abi, will she and Jenner ever be together, will Gavar marry the fiercely ambitious Bouda as his father commands, or find a way out? What will happen to Libby, and Daisy? What about the dogman, what part is he playing, and the Doc, and Angel, Rennie and the rest of the gang…..and of course the big one. Silyen – what’s he plotting, and is it for good, for bad or just to pass the time? With him you never quite know 😉

Its a fabulous read, if Skill were real as in this book you could imagine that all these things could – and probably would 😦 – happen. A book destined to become a real Classic, a treat to read and I’m rooting for books two and three ASAP.

Stars: Five, a gem of a debut read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Fire and Flame, Anya Breton. Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Fire and Flame,  Anya Breton

Fire and Flame by [Breton, Anya]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

I loved the sound of this, and it started well, but then for me went downhill pretty quickly.

I found the two main characters hard to like, Sara even more so than Brent.
The misunderstandings went on too long, it was believable at first but soon felt tired and they annoyed me.
I didn’t understand why Sara seemed to be an only child, when as the High Priest her father would have been expected to breed with several women. Maybe they were there but just not mentioned, but given the emphasis on Sara “doing her duty” and having a full blood witch child it seemed a bit odd.
That phrase too “doing her duty” was repeated time and time again, and I soon got irritated by it.

The whole novel has to me a very YA feel but with some added sex. It felt as if the author had tried to make it appeal to a wider audience by adding some spicy sex scenes in, but for me the writing style still very very Teen and YA.
There were some phrases I simply couldn’t understand, or that just felt odd – “clean shaven skin of his cheeks no longer de-emphasized the bubbled scars beneath his chin” I think she means without his beard his scars were showing, but it seems a torturous way of writing it.
Then “Did you do your duty with someone else to avoid doing it with me?” again, a long winded way of saying have you had sex with someone else 😉
This one had me totally amazed, just can’t get that scene out of my head 😉 “her breasts bounced for his attention and her legs scissored opened and closed at regular intervals signally that though the massaging was becoming too much for her, she didn’t want him to stop.” ( That’s exactly as its written BTW – not my typos for once!) I have to say that sounds like very active but odd sex, kind of sex semaphore!!
Later when she’s describing his penis(or rod as its referred to quite often,) she says though he’s above average size when erect, when its not it’s smaller in length and girth than even human men. I felt a bit sorry for poor Brent there!

There’s lots of action, it’s an interesting idea but TBH it just felt too YA for me. I’ve read some great YA novels where the stories appeal to all ages, but for me this wasn’t one. If I was a teen I expect I’d love it but I’m not and sadly I didn’t take to the characters and it was just too unbelievable for me.

Stars: Two and a half, a fun idea that for me just didn’t work out. Others love it though, so that’s fine.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Thunder Moon - a beautiful tale of magic and love by [Mallory, Joanne]

Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

Reading ARCs means that often there’s little information available – and when choosing this I didn’t know this was a novella, just 100 pages, 1970 kindle locations. Novellas rarely work for me as they just don’t let me get to know the characters or plots in any detail and that’s what happened here.

Its a good story, part romance, part looking back to times past, part supernatural.
Its just that I never really felt I knew the characters more than just superficially. There just wasn’t the space – it works for many readers and that’s great, but I want the nitty gritty, want to feel all the emotions, wallow in sadness when things are wrong, fill my heart with joy when things go right and in such a short read I can’t.

Its a good mix of people, a fun story, once I understood what was happening.
The beginning had me floundering a little as compressing a story into a novella means details are short, and I wasn’t always quite sure what was going on. It comes clearer though and turns into a pleasant light fantasy romance.
It was an OK read but just a bit on the short and light side for me.

Stars: Two and a half, an OK read that I’d have enjoyed more of it was longer.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Forgotten Tale, The Accidental Turn Series Book 2, J.M. Frey

The Forgotten Tale, The Accidental Turn Series Book 2,  J.M. Frey

The Forgotten Tale (The Accidental Turn Book 2) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I loved book one and it had a proper ending – so how could there be a book two I wondered, and would it live up the the fantastic magics and world building of book one? Well, Book two is a complete one once again ( hurrah) and yes it does live up the the first one 😉

Once more we meet all the old favourite characters, but two years or so on, so baby Alis had been born to Forsyth and Pip.
They’re living in our world. I hesitate to say the Real world, because even though it came from stories the world Forsyth was born into is very real too.
Forsyth and Pip have settled into a routine, she’s teaching and loves it, Forsyth works from home and looks after baby Alis.
He’s an amazing man, made the best of an awful upbringing in the world of the Tales, forever under Kintyre’s shadow, yet he became a great man to those who lived in his district, set up so many schemes to better peoples daily lives, educate the children, ensure people had homes, and behind all that he worked as the King’s Shadow Hand, a kind of Turnshire MI5 leader….Now in Pip’s world he performing the same kind of role, having taught himself computer skills and working as a kind of super hacker……all very mysterious much like his last role. Then disaster strikes….

Forsyth notices that books are missing, not just from his home but from shops, libraries and the internet, and most importantly they’re gone from peoples memories! How come he’s the only one that recalls them – then Alis gives indications she can too and he’s so relived. He feared moving worlds had damaged him, or that he was going mad, becoming like his father.
What’s behind it though and how can he convince Pip its really happening, as she has no memory of the books? Before he really gets a chance to do more than make a few lists the three are whisked back to Turn Hall.

It was great to see old friends, to see the changes in Kintyre and Bevel, to meet Sheriff Pointe again.
There are references to many things that happened in book one, and you’d find it difficult I think to understand this without reading that one.
Kintyre now has a 15 year old son, Wyndham, living with them, his mother was a Pirate leader and dropped him off to live at Turn Hall for a while.
He’s a great lad, but as would happen if this were real, he’s confused, resentful, feels just wrong there.
Kintyre is shocked, didn’t know he was a father and Wyndham just wants the old adventuring person he’d heard about, not this new version, who’s too full of responsibilities to go adventuring. He resents Bevel too, even though the poor man is trying far more than Kintyre (IMO) to be a father to him.

Its another magic filled story, cleverly building on book one and the events that happened there, and pulling Forsyth, Pip, Alis, Kintyre and Bev into another Quest.
Not only do they want to return home, but strange things are happening in this world too, much like the missing books. Forsyth isn’t one to let things like that slide.

I really enjoyed it once more, loved the way Pip works out where they should be and what should happen, and “lazy world-building” she says of the author every now and then, when she feels he’s being predictable or not working hard enough for a solution.
I was a bit confused by Solina at first and how she played into what was happening, but that became clear once the story moved forward.

I think you have to be in the right mind-set to read these stories, and I had to wait a few days til I felt in the mood for a pure fantasy escape, as its so unrelated to reality, so full of magic, superpower swords, spells, talking dragons, red cap gnomes etc that its not good starting unless you’re feeling ready to believe in all these things, to suspend reality for a few hours and let the magic of the stories take you over.

To me both these books are those that are suitable for any age from good YA readers up to those like me far older. A good story appeals to all ages.

Stars: Five, another winning read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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