Book Review: Trial by Obsidian by Naomi Kelly



Publication Date

11th August 2019

Genre

Fantasy, High Fantasy, YA, Romance

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

The poverty-stricken southern lands of Deshure have kept Juniper Obsidian hidden all her life. Her concealed identity kept her safe. Until now. The northern lands of Sinlara are home to the Chambers. Here rules are enforced and wars are waged, but since the end of the War fifteen years ago things have been quiet. That is until they get their hands on Juniper.
When an enemy who has an uncertain a past as she does a future offers her help, Juniper must question what really makes us who we are? Can she trust the man before her?
Is there more to loyalty than a boarder? More to family than a blood-line?
The time has come where she must learn to stand and fight.

Hiding is no longer an option.

I want to start off by saying that I did enjoy this. The plot is good and I was hooked into the world from the very first page, but it’s not without its problems.

It’s quite short, standing at around 250 pages, and because of that I felt that it wasn’t fleshed out enough. There were a few moments that I felt really needed it. Like, there is a part where Reuben (MCs love interest) finds out he has been lied to his whole life, and it’s a seriously big lie that needed a seriously big response, but we didn’t get that. His feelings do get explored more as the book goes on, but I did feel that initial reaction wasn’t true to life.

The same can also be said for the relationship between Juniper and Reuben. It just happened. There was no fleshing out of it. No exploring the chemistry before it happened. It was just there. I personally, loved them together, but I wish the writing had been stronger and less rushed to make me really feel something for them.

I would rate this book at somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, but I’ve given it 4 as I did really enjoy the plot, even though I was let down by the character/relationship development issues. I do feel like I’ve been very generous though.

Book Review: Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker



Publication Date

26th September 2019

Genre

Fantasy, YA, Adventure

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.


“I know what you mean,” Cody said heaving a deep sigh “This has been one of those where I’m tired of saying ‘What the weird’.”

Like Cody, I probably said ‘What the weird’ a few times too whilst reading this book. It is absolutely insane, but do you know what? All the best books are.

It’s sort of reminded me of one of the more fun, light-hearted episodes of Doctor Who where the Doctor comes to save the day, and there’s a lot of running to and from aliens. There’s always some sort of bonkers way of getting out of whatever predicament he finds himself in, and the conversations are nothing short of insane. Well, instead of The Doctor we have the Salvation Alliance, and instead of aliens we have imps, orcs, ogres and a variety of other strange creatures.. but aside from that, they are essentially the same.

On the whole, I enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun. It did take me a while to get my head around things sometimes though, and it did take me a little while to get through because sometimes I had to double back to understand what was happening. It’s VERY fast-paced too, so that doesn’t help. The ending leads well into a second book, where we will hopefully explore new worlds, which all sounds very exciting. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, whacky, fantasy adventure.

*Thank you to RJ Parker for sending me a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin



Publication Date

17th October 2019

Genre

Fantasy, YA, Romance, YA Fantasy

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

BOUND AS ONE TO LOVE, HONOR, OR BURN

Two years ago,
Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur,
Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous ene-mies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

AND
LOVE MAKES FOOLS
OF US ALL.


I just freaking loved this. I honestly don’t know what else to say.

The relationship between Lou and Reid filled me with the warm and fuzzies and I just couldn’t help but root for them.. and that’s despite the fact that, on paper, Reid would never be a character that I would remotely like.. but I found myself drawn to their relationship.

AND THAT’S NOT EVEN MY FAVOURITE RELATIONSHIP. Because the friendship between Lou and Ansel is just the cutest thing ever and I want them to be bffs forever. There’s just so much fun between them, they just make me smile.

The world building is solid, and the period french setting with the witch hunting plot works so perfectly together.

If I could give one criticism it would be the first chapter and that’s because we just get thrown into this world without easing us into it at all. I feel like Mahurin, who obviously knows the characters and world inside out, forgot for a moment that we don’t. There are character names being thrown around without any sort of context as to who they are. I didn’t know what was happening. It was confusing.

BUT! It didn’t last long, and I can forgive one single chapter being a bit off, because boy did it get good.

Book Review: Tentacles and Teeth by Ariele Sieling



Publication Date

4th March 2019

Genre

Sci-fi, Horror, Fantasy, YA

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

The apocalypse wasn’t what anyone expected–no rising flood waters, no zombies, no nuclear bombs. Instead, monsters. Their sudden invasion left the world in shatters, and now, decades later, all that’s left of human civilization are a few nomadic bands struggling to survive off the land.

Askari was born to this world, and lives, fights, and survives alongside the community that raised her. But when she breaks one too many of the community’s rules, her punishment is severe: leave.

Armed with her bow and blade, Askari sets off alone, guided only by a map and the promise that if she can find a book hidden in a nearby town, then she can return. But what can one person do alone in such a harsh, violent landscape? How will she survive?

Askari faces a challenge that will force her to learn not only about the world she lives in, but question what she believes about herself.


Tentacles and Teeth is a short novel which takes place decades after an apocalypse. The world is now overrun with killer monsters and survival is now the only way of living.

But does it have to be? Askari wants to learn more about the monsters, to live alongside them, or to use their newfound knowledge to find better ways to fight them. But her community has forbidden it.

The world which Sieling has created is definitely a scary one, but I would have loved to have seen the background explored more. Where did the monsters come from? How did it happen? Anything to give a more detailed view of the world created.

I have the same issue with the characters. They are, on the whole, likeable. However, they are all written about in such a simplistic way that they lacked any real depth.

There was a twist or two that I appreciated, and the plot was good. I just wish that everything was written in more detail really.

*Thank you to the publisher and to Book Sirens for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber


Publication Date

29th May 2018

Genre

Fantasy, YA, YA Fantasy, Romance

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟.5

Blurb

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the competition once more. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything – maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

The games have only just begun.

“Every good story needs a villain.

But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”

It’s Caraval, round two, and this time it’s Tellas turn to take centre stage. And this time, everything is real. Or is it? I honestly have no idea, and I’m so, so tired of trying to figure it all out. Seriously, I have an headache.

This lacked the twists and turns of the last book. Most of them are easy to guess and lack impact.

Tella is much more of a fun character to be around the Scarlett, but I still found her to be a little bit annoying. She falls for the same tricks as her sister, despite having the foresight of knowing how Caraval works. I’m going to put this down to their age, I think. As an adult reading, they are annoying, but to the authors credit, they do actually act like 16 year olds. I was also looking forward to seeing some growth from Scarlett, but with this being her sisters story, I didn’t get that.

I’m still failing to be overly impressed by this series. It’s a really fun sounding concept but it never reaches the heights it could.

Book Review: The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson


Publication Date

4th June 2020

Genre

Historical Fiction

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

‘I need your help getting Chynalls in order so I can stay in my own house. Come down right away!’

After the death of her mother, Rebecca is sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.

Rebecca arrives at Chynalls to find the house crumbling into the ground and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.

Though slightly daunted, Rebecca sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner…

‘The Sea Gate’ follows the story of Becky, who heads to Cornwall unexpectedly to help her hospital bound Aunt Olivia. It’s in Cornwall that she will learn what really matters to her, and get rid of anything holding her back.

Alongside this, we have the story of a much younger Olivia, taking place during WW2.

I enjoyed the way that both stories mirrored each other in way, despite Becky and Olivia being completely different in terms of their personalities and character. I also enjoyed the exploration of Olivia and Hameds relationship, in a time where interracial relationships weren’t the norm. I thought it was tastefully done.

My issue with this book is that nothing seems to written in enough depth. Things happen out of the blue and are then skipped over very quickly. The relationships definitely needed to be expanded on and fleshed out, to make the growth seem more natural.

On the whole, this was a good read, but it never really made me excited.

Book Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas


Publication Date

3rd March 2020

Genre

Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟.5

Blurb

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. Every night is a party and Bryce is going to savour all the pleasures Lunathion – also known as Crescent City – has to offer. But then a brutal murder shakes the very foundations of the city, and brings Bryce’s world crashing down.

Two years later, Bryce still haunts the city’s most notorious nightclubs – but seeking only oblivion now. Then the murderer attacks again. And when an infamous Fallen angel, Hunt Athalar, is assigned to watch her every footstep, Bryce knows she can’t forget any longer.

As Bryce and Hunt fight to unravel the mystery, and their own dark pasts, the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the deepest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir …

With unforgettable characters and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom – and the power of love.

This was another weird one for me. It was another slow burn with an amazing ending that makes you forgive whatever you read previously.

A lot of it I didn’t love. I didn’t love that it is basically a really long whodunit. I don’t like detective novels, and it turns out that even detective novels with a fantasy backdrop aren’t really my thing.

I also didn’t like the world, which felt like someone just spewed a load of magical, mythological creatures into our own world. There are phones, and computers, they talk like us, they dress like us, they eat the same food as us. But they’re not us, and this isn’t our world. I can’t explain why, but it irked me. It all felt a bit like an episode of ‘Charmed’. But even after saying that, there is still some solid world-building going on. I still believe Maas is very clever with how she does it, weaving it into the story without us noticing too much.

I did love the characters. On the surface, Bryce is the typical party girl, but she is so much more. As the story goes on, her layers unfurl and we see who she really is. She is a very complex character and was written very, very well.

There were a lot of questions throughout the book, that kept me hooked into it. I wanted answers more than anything else, and that’s the main thing that kept me reading. And I’m glad I did because the ending was AMAZING, with twists that I truly did not see coming. I was also thrilled to find that all my questions did actually get answered. I had a feeling that Maas would leave something behind, to draw us into the next book, but it was all wrapped up very neatly.

I’m surprising myself here, after hating most of the book, but I will actually pick up the next one whenever it’s out. I think now everything has been established, that this could turn into something really good.

Book Review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth


Publication Date

7th April 2020

Genre

Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟.5

Blurb

Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. He was known as the Dark One, and his weapon of choice—catastrophic events known as Drains—leveled cities and claimed thousands of lives. Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.

After the Dark One fell, the world went back to normal . . . for everyone but them. After all, what do you do when you’re the most famous people on Earth, your only education was in magical destruction, and your purpose in life is now fulfilled?

Of the five, Sloane has had the hardest time adjusting. Everyone else blames the PTSD—and her huge attitude problem—but really, she’s hiding secrets from them . . . secrets that keep her tied to the past and alienate her from the only four people in the world who understand her.

On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold—bigger than the world itself.

And this time, fighting back might take more than Sloane has to give.

Chosen Ones is a fantasy, but it’s so close to being a sci-fi that you may as well slap that on it too. Yes, there’s magic, but there’s also parallel universes and lots of science-y sounding shit, so I really think it will appeal to sci-fi lovers too.

At the heart of the the story, we have Sloane – our lovely anti-hero, who is basically just a vat of sarcasm and angst. She’s been through a massive ordeal. She was one of five ‘chosen ones’, picked to save Earth from The Dark One. Several years later, and she’s struggling.. with life, love, her past.. whatever you can think of, she’s got issues. But that’s all in the past now. Or is it?

Most of the main characters are fleshed out and feel real. Even a few minor characters are written well enough that their personalities leap from the pages.

There is an issue with pacing. The first half of the book is really slow. I didn’t like that we started at the end, and I didn’t know where it was going. I think it could have worked better if we had some flashbacks in that first half. I think that would have upped the pace and make the first half more interesting. Instead, the only glimpses into what happened in the past are from newspaper articles, or interviews. I wasn’t keen on those to be honest, they drew me out of the story.. so yeah, more detailed flashbacks would have been better.

The second half was so amazing, I’d forgotten how much I hated the first half. I loved it. It didn’t have a lot of big action segments, but it was well paced and never dull. It had a romance that worked well, with 2 people that have chemistry and would actually work as a couple. There were some twists, which honestly, were mostly predictable, but I didn’t mind because I was enthralled anyway. The last twist though, that one caught me off guard. It definitely gave the book reason to go out with a bang. I’m really excited for what comes next.

Cover Reveal: Legend of the Storm Sneezer



Today I am excited to share with you the reveal of the cover for an exciting, upcoming Middle Grade Fantasy novel, The Stormwatch Diaries: Legend of the Storm Sneezer. This debut from by Kristiana Sfirlea is being released by Monster Ivy Publishing on May 5th and has been described as the timey-wimey mischief of Doctor Who meeting the stormy magic of Frozen so it’s a book you’re going to want to have on your radar.

Pre-Order Here: https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Storm-Sneezer-Stormwatch-Diaries-ebook/dp/B084VTP6GD/



Blurb

Legend Seeker. Part-time Ghost Hunter. Time Traveler.

Thirteen-year-old Rose Skylar sneezed a magical storm cloud at birth, and it’s followed her around ever since. But when “Stormy” causes one too many public disasters, Rose is taken to Heartstone, an asylum for unstable magic. Its location? The heart of a haunted forest whose trees have mysteriously turned to stone.

They say the ghosts are bound to the woods … then why does Rose see them drifting outside the windows at night? And why is there a graveyard on the grounds filled with empty graves? Guided by her future selves via time traveling letters, Rose and Marek—best friend and potential figment of her imagination—must solve the mystery of the specters and the stone trees before the ghosts unleash a legendary enemy that will make their own spooks look like a couple of holey bed sheets and destroy Heartstone Asylum.

Letters from the future are piling up. Rose can’t save Heartstone herself. However, five of herselves, a magical storm cloud, and a guardian angel who might very well be imaginary? Now that’s a silver lining.

But will they find what killed the ghosts before what killed the ghosts finds them?

Excerpt



About the Author

As an author, Kristiana Sfirlea knows what it means to get in character. She spent five years volunteering as a historical reenactor and trying her best not to catch her skirts on fire as a colonial girl from the 1700s (leading cause of death at the time next to childbirth). Working at a haunted house attraction, she played a jumping werewolf statue, a goblin in a two-way mirror, and a wall-scratcher—so if she’s standing very still, growling, checking her reflection, or filing her nails on your wall, be alarmed. Those are hard habits to break.

Kristiana’s speculative flash fiction has been published by Havok, and her debut novel Legend of the Storm Sneezer is a whimsical Middle Grade fantasy involving time travel and things that go bump in the night. She dreams of the day she can run her own mobile bookstore. Or haunted house attraction. Or both. Look out, world—here comes a haunted bookmobile! (And this is precisely why writers should never become Uber drivers.) She loves Jesus, her family, and imaginary life with her characters.

You can follow Kristiana on social media or visit her at www.KristianasQuill.com.

Follow Kristiana Around the Web:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher


Publication Date

15 August 2018

Genre

Science Fiction, Dystopian, Feminism

Star Rating

🌟🌟🌟

Blurb

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

“You know, babe, I wonder if it was better when you didn’t talk.”

The thing about dystopias is that we have to believe that no matter how strange the future looks, it’s still a future that could possibly happen on our little Earth. The further into the future the book goes, the more far fetched the world can get. I think the main thing is that it’s explained why the world is the way it is, and that the explanation makes sense.

I’m going to use A Handmaids Tale as an example because this book often gets compared to it, and they are similar in the sense that both books are dystopias tackle women’s oppression at the hand of religious zealots. The key difference is that in A Handmaids Tale, things are explained in a way that makes it seem plausible. It was a birth rate crisis that started it, and what pushed the plot in the direction it did. Without it, the whole premise wouldn’t work.

But that’s what we experience in Vox. A future in which women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. It’s an interesting premise, but the reasons why are so vague, that the whole book becomes pointless. I didn’t believe it could happen, because I didn’t understand why it happened.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. With the premise being as good as it is, some uncomfortable scenarios occur, and there was points where I thought ‘fuck, that is a scary thought’. That, to me, is the sign of a good dystopia. Unfortunately, the whole thing seemed to come from nowhere, and in the end, it went nowhere. Such a shame for a book that held so much promise.

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