Book Review: Circle of Shadows

Circle of Shadows – Evelyn Skye – Circle of Shadows #1 – Balzer+Bray – Published 22 January 2019

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Synopsis

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

My thoughts

Circle of Shadows is the first book in a new fantasy series by Evelyn Skye. Despite the intriguing synopsis, I did not enjoy Circle of Shadows as I anticipated I would. While the latter half of the book is more engaging with a quickly moving plot, the first half of the book is slow, with little action to grab my attention. A juvenile writing style more befitting a different kind of story, characters with quickly changing motives and a lack of explanation for the magic in this book meant I never became invested in the characters nor their quest.

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Excerpt Reveal: Only A Breath Apart

Excerpt Reveal: Only A Breath Apart

Would you dare to defy destiny? Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people’s opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be? 

“A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love” (Wendy Higgins), ONLY A BREATH APART is a young adult contemporary novel from critically acclaimed Katie McGarry. “Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful” (Tammara Webber), ONLY A BREATH APART will be available on all retailers on January 22, 2019!

 

I am very excited to be sharing with you today this excerpt reveal from Katie McGarry’s new book Only A Breath Apart. I am a huge fan of Katie McGarry’s writing and I can’t wait for a chance to get a full copy into my hands and onto the shelves for our readers. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this excerpt as much as I did. Keep reading to find out more about this title, the author and the excerpt.

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Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer – A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1 – Bloomsbury YA – Published 29 January 2019

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Synopsis

Prince Rhen is cursed. He spurned the wrong woman and is now forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year until he can convince another to love him. His fate would be bearable, but at the end of every season, he transforms into a dangerous monster. After his subjects learned to fear the castle on the hill, Rhen sent Grey, the last member of his guard, to find young women in other worlds.

Harper is cursed by reality. Her father left and her mother is losing her fight with cancer. When Harper sees Grey abducting a woman from the streets of D.C., she intervenes, only to get sucked into Rhen’s world. Now, Harper is trapped. But when Harper proves to be more than just another girl to charm, Rhen realizes he can do more than break the curse . . . he can save his kingdom once and for all.

My thoughts

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is an absolutely incredible fantasy novel. Fantastical, thrilling, unique, and so very cleverly plotted, I was entranced from the first page to the last. I love Brigid Kemmerer’s writing and all her books, so I knew I would enjoy A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but I was totally blown away. This Beauty and the Beast retelling is the very best retelling of this, my favourite, fairytale I have ever read – and I have read a few. It is clever, original and, well, I’m seriously impressed.

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Book Review: Even If I Fall

Even If I Fall – Abigail Johnson – Inkyard Press – Published 8 January 2019

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Synopsis

A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.

My thoughts

I absolutely love picking up books by Abigail Johnson because I know that I will adore them. They put your through an emotional wringer but they never disappoint. Such is true of her latest title, Even If I Fall. Stunning and heartfelt writing combine with an incredible story of loss, anger, guilt and family breakdown. A story about things you can’t explain much less come to terms with. A story of hope and love, friendship and support. Even If I Fall will entrance readers; perfect for fans of emotional contemporary YA fiction.

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Book Review: What You Hide

What You Hide – Natalie D. Richards – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 4 December 2018

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Synopsis

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

My thoughts

What You Hide is one part contemporary, the other part mystery thriller. It is a touching and thought-provoking story of family breakdown and youth homelessness, a coming of age story and a love story rolled into one.

When Mallory’s pregnant mother changes her mind about leaving her controlling and demanding husband (Malloy’s stepfather), Mallory makes the decision to leave by herself. This new plan means that she has nowhere to go. Enrolled in online school, she spends her days at the library and, once her welcome wears out her friend’s home, her nights too. It’s at the library that she meets Spencer. Seemingly living a perfect life, Spencer reveals he is working at the library to serve out his community service sentence and that he is struggling with decisions about the future. But then a body is found in the library and signs show that Mallory isn’t the only one hiding in the library.

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Book Review: The Disasters

The Disasters – M.K. England – HarperTeen – Published 18 December 2018

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Synopsis

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

My thoughts

Well, that was a whole bunch of fun. With spaceship chases, a plot to wipe out the population of both Earth and all the new colonised planets, grand theft spaceship, diverse characters, humour, advanced tech, and plenty of space-y action, The Disasters is a fun and thrilling new YA sci-fi. It will entice fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and thrill sci-fi readers.

Nax is being kicked out of The Academy. He and three others have failed in their dream to use the Academy space program to launch themselves to a new life on a planet or spaceship in a different solar system. But as their shuttle is about to leave the Academy on Ellis Station, they witness the attack and brutal murder of all the occupants of the station. Making a daring escape on the shuttle, these four rejects suddenly find themselves as the only people aware of the plot to wipe out Earth, and the only ones who can stop it.

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Book Review: Navigating The Stars

Navigating the Stars – Maria V. Snyder – Sentinels of the Galaxy #1 – Harlequin – Published 19 November 2018

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Synopsis

Year 2471. A new discovery. Those three words thrill my parents – the galaxy’s leading archaeologists – but for me, it means another time jump to a different planet. One so big, my friends will be older than my dad when we arrive. And I’ll still be seventeen. Thanks, Einstein. I really can’t blame Einstein, though. No one expected to find life-sized terracotta warriors buried on other planets. So off we go to investigate, traveling through space and time. With my social life in ruins, I fill my days illegally worming into the quantum net – the invention that allows us to travel in space. Of course the only person close to my age is a hot-but-pain-in-the-neck security officer who threatens to throw me into the brig. But when one of the warrior planets goes silent, we have bigger problems on our hands. The planet’s entire population might be dead. And now my worming skills, along with a translation of an ancient alien artefact, might be the key to finding out why. But my attempts to uncover the truth lead to the discovery of a deadly new alien phenomenon, and also alert those who wish to keep it quiet. The galaxy is in real danger and time is not on our side…

My thoughts

I am a huge fan of Synder’s Ixia Chronicles and her Outside In series, so when I heard she was writing a new sci-fi novel I knew I just had to read it. I am so glad that HarperCollins Australia went ahead with publishing – yay Australia! Navigating the Stars is full of adventure, awesome advanced technology, romance, archaeology, hacking, code breaking and trouble-making. With Synder’s signature writing style and touch of humour and banter, Navigating the Stars is sure to thrill all her devoted fans and entice many new readers to join the ranks of her followers.

Lyra lives on planet Xinji – one of hundreds found after the discovery of the quantum net and the ability to crinkle time, moving tens of years through space in a matter of days. Her parents are archaeologists working to uncover the mystery of the thousands of Chinese Terracotta Warriors buried on planets spread throughout the Milky Way. But when a new planet is discovered, it means Lyra is forced to follow her parents deeper into space, leaving behind her friends and her planned future. But big discoveries await and this time Lyra will find herself right in the middle of the big and dangerous discoveries.

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Book Review: The XY

The XY – Virginia Bergin – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 6 November 2018

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Synopsis

In River’s world, XYs are a relic of the past, along with things like war and violence. Thanks to the Global Agreements, River’s life is simple, safe, and peaceful…until she comes across a body in the road one day. A body that is definitely male, definitely still alive.

River isn’t prepared for this. There’s nothing in the Agreements about how to deal with an XY. Yet one lies before her, sick, suffering, and at her mercy.

River can kill him, or she can save him. Either way, nothing will ever be the same.

My thoughts

The XY is a compelling and unique work of speculative fiction that asks the question, what if? What if a drastic illness reduced the population by half. What would the world look like? How would things have changed 60 years on? What if the half that was left to start over were all female? What if a young girl, who has only know life in this new era, met a boy, a strange creature she recognises only from history lessons? How would she treat him, how would it change her world?

River lives in a world two generations on from an event that changed everything. When she finds an injured stranger on the road home, she is shocked to discover it is an XY – a boy. When she saves his life and takes him back to her community, it will forever change her life and how she views her world.

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Book Review: War of Storms

War of Storms – Erica Cameron – Ryogan Chronicles #3 – Entangled:Teen – Published 5 November 2018

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Synopsis

Khya arrived at the Ryogan coast too late to stop the invasion. Now, cities are falling before the unrelenting march of an enemy army, and Khya’s squad is desperately trying to stay ahead of them. Warning the Ryogans, though, means leaving her brother imprisoned even longer. Time is running out for everyone.

But how can her squad of ten stand against an army of ten thousand?

Calling in help from every ally she’s made in Ryogo, Khya tries to build a plan that won’t mean sacrificing her friends or her brother. It’s a tough balance to find, especially when the leadership role she thought she wanted sits heavy on her shoulders, and her relationship with Tessen is beginning to crack under the strain.

The end is coming, and there’s no way to know who’ll be left standing when it hits.

My thoughts

War of Storms is the third and final instalment of the Ryogan Chronicles, an action packed, diverse and thrilling fantasy series. The Ryogan Chronicles is a unique and highly enjoyable series, and War of Storms is a brilliant third book, providing the ultimate climax and conclusion to the ongoing story of a fight for freedom and truth.

Khya and her friends have crossed oceans and visited strange lands, pushing their knowledge of the world, skills and endurance to the very limit in a bid to remove Varan and the other immortals from power and save their friends and family and the rest of Ryogan from their wrath. Now armed with a deadly secret that could give them an edge over the ruthless ruler, they must make a final stand and hope that their few numbers and allies can win against Varan’s army.

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Book Review: Little White Lies

Little White Lies – Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Freeform – Published 6 November 2018

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Synopsis

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

My thoughts

I would usually steer away from books about Debutante balls and the drama that might accompany such events, but Little White Lies is written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, so instead it became one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. And it did not disappoint. Only Barnes could create such a setting and accompany it with breathless tension and mystery, expertly combined with humour and good old insult-laden compliments.

Sawyer Taft has never known who her father is – her mother refused to speak of him or the life she left behind. But when Sawyer’s maternal grandmother makes a sudden appearance, she promises both answers and a whole lot of money if Sawyer will agree to live with her for nine months and become a Debutante. While trying to find her own answers about her mother’s past and her unknown father, Sawyer becomes entangled in another mystery, all while juggling brunch, dress fittings, and the special kind of horror that is a spa day.

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