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Review: As I Descended

— feeling ghost
As I Descended - Robin Talley

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I pre ordered this one, as it had been on my wish list for ages and then jumped at the chance as soon as it was on Netgalley, and had a happy dance when I got approved. (Though it did take me shamefully long time actually finish). I’m not sure what it was – but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I was hoping to.


Great cast of characters and double plus points for diversity, but there was just something missing from this one for me. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. The plot was interesting, and I could pick out the Macbeth parallels. I didn’t study Macbeth in school, so I can’t say how accurately it related, but looking from a few reviews I’ve read it’s a really loose retelling.


I think I struggled with it towards the end because it got very weird and very confusing, at least for me. Though I was fairly surprised by the ending, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but on reflection I suppose it suited the Shakespearian tragedy feel.


The novel tells the story of Lily and Maria, who attend a very posh boarding school on what used to be a planation. There have been stories and rumours of ghosts on campus for many many years and more than a few tragedies and deaths. Lily and Maria are a couple, even though they are both still in the closet. They want to be done with high school and go to college together. Lily has her ticket to Stanford set, but Maria doesn’t. Maria believes her only option is to win the Cawdor Kingsley Prize scholarship. There’s just one problem in their way – golden girl Delilah Dufrey also head of the line for the Cawdor Kingsley Prize.


Delilah is the most popular girl in school – she appears to be friends with both Maria and Lilly. The opening scene is them all hanging out with some other kids doing a séance where weird things start happening right away, there may be a ghost in the room and there’s hints that Maria has some sort of understanding or communication powers with spirits which she is in deep denial of. So Lilly and Maria plot to get Delilah out of the running so Maria can win the prize.


It’s an interesting take on how far would you go to stay together and go to be the best you can. With a lot of morality issues as well – which at first seem non existent in this school setting. But some as things progress and the plot gets twistier –there’s that underline attack of conscience and nagging doubt as things quickly descend into darkness and madness.


There’s lots going on with ghosts and spirits and something to do with the history of the plantation where the school was built on. Spanners thrown into Maria and Lilly’s happiness when other students start to realize what’s going on – namely Maria’s best friend Brandon and his boyfriend Mateo start putting the pieces together.


(The other thing this book has going for it is there isn’t a single hetro couple that gets any focus – which was awesome – it’s all about Lilly and Maria and Brandon and Mateo).

But as the novel goes on and things get creepier, it seems the effect of guilt with the atmosphere in the school and the ghosts takes its toll on everyone’s mind. And this was where it got very confusing, (for me anyway).


But it was certainly a gripping read, even if it was weird towards the end.


Thank you Netgalley and Mira Ink UK for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses - Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I received a copy from Netgalley when my wish request was granted. I also purchased a finished paperback because I love the UK cover.


This was a really interesting book. The paperback has a map in the front of the area in Alaska where the book is set, and it was a little confusing, there were several towns, a river and I could also see a nunnery on the map as well. It was like – how does all this tie together? The plot itself is not a new one, there are four main characters, each chapter is told from a different character’s view point. It tells of how the three main female characters know each other and the others in their small town, and the outsider who comes in.


Ruth is madly in love with a boy and keeps sneaking out to see him, Dora has a horribly abusive father and escapes to live with her friend Dumpling, Alyce is a fantastic ballerina but doesn’t want to leave her parents, she works with her dad and her uncle on their fishing boat. Hank and his younger brothers are running away from something.


What makes this book unique is it’s setting – it’ Alaska in the 1970s and it’s so different it was almost impossible to picture living this way, (even with a map of the areas). The writing and the narrative are what makes the novel unputdownable. It does deal with a few disturbing issues – Dora’s escape from her horrible father and her annoying, passive enabler mother doesn’t help at all. There is a rather violent scene at the beginning of Ruth’s helping her dad kill and skin a deer and her mother dances in the blood, while it may be a shock to the reader, it seems like the most normal thing in the world for Ruth as a small child. Then her dad dies, her mother loses her mind and is shipped off to an institution and Ruth’s nasty overbearing overly religious grandma comes to look after Ruth and her sister. Alyce’s story I found a little boring – she has the potential to be a really good ballerina, with the option to audition for some big show, but if she gets it – it will mean having to leave the town and her family. There’s a lot about how the fishing side of things work with Alyce’s story. And then Hank and his younger brothers Sam and Jack are running away from something. Though I can’t remember if it was ever really explained what. I didn’t really care much for Hank or his storylines.


The novel deals with teen pregnancy as well and has some surprising results as how it brings the girl and the family involved together. It plots along quite well. And at some point all these story lines are supposed to interact. And eventually they do, they were quite a few emotional bits towards the end and some “ah, so that’s how” moments as the story lines connect.


Beautifully written, fascinating setting and interesting characters (even if there were one or two story lines I found a little dull). Definitely worth a read for something a little different.


Thank you Netgalley and Faber and Faber LTD for granting my wish request.

Review: Our Chemical Hearts

Our Chemical Hearts - Krystal Sutherland

I received a copy from Netgalley.


This was one of those delightful books that I loved almost as soon as I started reading. A bit of cover lust as well (I loved the big fish on the front) I’ve not come across a lot of YA romantic/drama types from a male point of view before.


I was captivated immediately by Henry’s tone of voice and personality. I liked all of the characters in this one, except for Grace Town. I didn’t really like her much at all. But I really enjoyed the narrative and the build of the relationship and how she came into Henry’s world. Henry also had a great support system, some wonderful friends and some likeable parents, an older sister with a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker from when she was at school which had some lingering effects on Henry’s teachers (even though Henry and his sister are nothing alike, and the sister was kind of awesome too).


Grace Town comes in dressed in weird boys’ clothes looking very dull and while everyone stares she immediately gets Henry’s attention. They both end up working on the school newspaper with one of Henry’s other friends and develop a sort of tentative friendship, despite the fact that their personalities are very different. Henry is quippy and quirky while Grace is sullen and quiet and seems very brash. Yet Henry’s head over heels for her very quickly.


There’s one brilliant scene where Henry and his friend are asking the school gossip queen to dig up some information for them on Grace, and Henry’s friend Murray is looking for gossip on his ex who he’s trying to win back. And Murray actually uses The Simpsons quote “Everything’s coming up Millhouse” quote in the right context and it’s absolutely hilarious. The use of that quote alone was worth five stars.


As things progress and Henry learns more about Grace and gets to know her better, there’s parties, drinking, misinterpretation of feelings - do they love me do they not -– the usual things you find in teen romantic drama. A bit of sex as well which was handled very well. Nicely thought out and dealt with from both people involved considerate of each other and where they want to be.


It’s exceptionally well written and manages to go from being romantic and sweet to angsty and dramatic without being over the top. When you think things are going smoothly, it twists and becomes deeply emotional and made me sniffle a few times towards the end. It’s got a great cast of diverse characters, each character is fully developed with their own distinct personalities and storylines, interactive parents and family members. And manages to be both funny and hearbreaking and wraps up with a believable conclusion.


I loved this so much I purchased a finished copy before I was even half way through. Definitely something I can see myself reading again.


Thank you Netgalley and Bonnier Publishing for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Night Parade

The Night Parade - Ronald Malfi


I received a copy from Netgalley.


It’s been a while since I read a really good horror novel, and this one caught my attention whilst browsing through Netgalley. Viruses that wipe out the world stories kind of leave me apprehensive in that it will either wind up focusing on zombies or be far too like Stephen King’s The Stand. This book stood out on its own merit.


I think what was so great about this one was that the main character, David, was just an ordinary guy. He wasn’t trying to save the world or find a cure or save his town. His wife had died under mysterious circumstances, and government doctors looking for a cure for the virus were supposedly involved. His main concern is to save his daughter.


David is a likeable guy because he’s a normal guy. A regular family man who works as an English professor with a wife and a smart small child. As the novel progresses and you learn the circumstances of how the virus stared told in flashback chapters, and the where David is now – on the run from the government, trying to debate how much to confess to his daughter.  The daughter Ellie, appears to be quite apathetic about the whole thing. She appears to be very quiet and very intelligent. At eight nearly nine she’s very well spoken, very well behaved and seems remarkably mature as things go from bad to worse as she and her dad try to find somewhere to hide. David has a brother, Tim, who lives “off the grid” who comes in to help at some point.


The tension is well written, the scenes are pretty damn creepy as David and Ellie go from town to town meeting a variety of scary people and towns all virus effected. Ellie starts to exhibit strange powers and there’s hints that her mother knew and possibly could have had them too only the government got to the mom first. The flashback chapters tell how everything started – and it’s completely believable which makes it even more tense and uncomfortable in parts.


As it goes on, it’s completely unpredictable as well. And as a reader I found myself really caring about David and Ellie and hoping they made it out okay. You get a sort of sense of how on earth is this going to wind up comfortably for everyone? But it’s a realistic horror novel. A happy ending isn’t necessary. The end was again well done and believable in keeping with the tone of the novel. It didn’t go down in a rush of stupid action. It built up to a dramatic conclusion left very open ended.

(It actually made me sniffle a bit).


I would really like to see a sequel following on from this one. Definitely an author I would read again.


Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for approving my request to view the title.

Story Sprites Round 5 Complete


Another round of Great Imagination's Story Sprites complete. This was a tougher than it looked. 


Pink Path

2016 Fantasy- Ruined by Amy Tintera - 3 stars
Gay Female MC - Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler - 3 stars
Character with Physical Deformity - Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto - 4 stars
Novel with Fire and/or Ice Theme - A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick - 4 Stars


Yellow Path

Fairytale Retelling Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige - 1 star
Villain Turned Good- Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake - 3 stars
Book Cover with a Face - The Reader by Traci Chee - 5 Stars
Book with a Fantasy Land - Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes - 4 stars


Green Path

Historical Standalone - Stone Field by Christy Lenz - 2 stars
By an Author or Color - Pasadena by Sherri L Smith - 4 stars
Setting: An American Chinatown - Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee - 5 stars
Female Empowerment as a Theme - Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes - 5 stars


Blue Path

Classic Horror - The Shining by Stephen King - 5 Stars
Vigilante MC - The Society by Jodie Andrefski - 3 stars
Book with Vampires Betrayed (House of Night #2) PC & Kristen Cast - 3 stars
Classic Rewritten Monsters - Romeo and Juliet and Vampires by Claudia Gabel 2 stars


Purple Path

Setting: 19th Century - These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - 4 stars
Book by Deceased Author I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan - 3 stars
No Romance - The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn - 5 stars
Book with a Shipwreck - Titanic The Long Night by Diane Hoh - 5 stars


You can see my Goodreads shelf with dates for all titles and some of the ones I reviewed here


Best Books

Girl Against the Universe, Outrun the Moon, Titanic The Long Night, The Shining, Pasadena,  The Smaller Evil, The Reader


Worst Books

Stealing Snow, Romeo and Juliet and Vampires, Stone Field


Honorable Mentions

Revenge and the Wild, These Shallow Graves, Falling Kingdoms, Read Me Like a Book, Ruined, A Frozen Heart

DNF: Paper and Fire

Paper and Fire: The Great Library - Rachel Caine

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I was really looking forward to this sequel. I had pre ordered a paperback copy, and took a chance when I saw it pop up on Netgalkey thinking I most likely wouldn't get approved but then I did and it was like OMG YES!!!!!!! I was so excited when I got approved for this one. 


However, it's a case of I can barely remember anything about the first book, I vaguely remember the world building and remember that I absolutely loved it, but barely anything about the plot. And that is making the second one quite confusing, I like what I read of it,m but it's been over a month since I last picked it up and I'm completely lost with who some of these characters are and where they came in in the first one. 


What at I will do at some point in the near future is read the first one again and then follow on immediately with the second one, cause I really do like this series and want to know more about these characters. Just not feeling it at the moment. 


Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for approving my request to view the title.

DNF: This Savage Song

This Savage Song - Victoria Schwab

Managed 141 pages but I'm bored. This book is not getting my attention at all. The world building is divided territories and monsters and the two factions who are in charge. Kate is the daughter of the baddie and August is the son of the goodie. The setting is bleak and dark, and whole Kate is a reasonably interesting character trying to prove she belongs at her father's side in charge and not shoved away in boarding schools, I'm finding August very dull and a woe is me type. Just not interested in where this is going.

DNF: King Slayer

The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter) - Virginia Boecker

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Snagged a copy with auto approval from Hatchette Children's on Netgalley as I remember quite liking the first book and being interested enough to know what happens next. Problem I have is I can't actually remember anything about the plot of the first book and I haven't got a clue what's going on in what I've read of the second one. It's not a bad book by any means, it's just confusing as hell. And at the moment I don't feel like re reading the first one. It's certainly something I may do at a later date, and then pick up the second one as I purchased a paperback copy, but not at the moment. So DNFing.

DNF: The Loneliness of Distant Beings

— feeling sleep
The Loneliness of Distant Beings - Kate Ling

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Something I snagged with auto approval from Hatchette Children's Books on Netgalley. I'm not that fond of sci-fi books, they're often a hit or a miss for me. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don't. Unfortunately this title was a miss for me. I gave it 100 pages, but I'm so bored with this book the thought of reading more makes me cringe and my eyes roll.

It's an interesting idea, Seren lives on a spaceship as part of a special mission group of people that's flying out of our solar system to find a new place for people to live, downside is it will take seven hundred plus years to go there. The people who live on the ship follow a set pattern plan and everything is determined for them by a system that's gone on for many many years. Education - two years of manual labour then a speciality. And a computer will tell you who you will marry and procreate with. It's all done by science, no need for romance and no one particularly cares if you don't like the person you're chosen to be with.

Seren hates her life. She's bored out her brains, moody and sulky. Given the circumstances, it's sort of understandable. However, she was so boring, had such a lack of personality and her everything sucks, dismissive of everything and everyone around her got very tiring very quickly. She hates the life partner chosen for her. She thinks her older sister who's happy with her match and her life partner is an idiot. Basically everyone's stupid but her is the impression I got. Then she meets Domingo at the doctor's office one day and he's the best looking thing she has ever seen and just like that she's madly madly in love with him after they spend one afternoon. She's willing to now break every rule she's ever learned to spend time with this guy. Who may have feelings for her but doesn't quite know.

It was a case of insta-love that in this occasion just didn't work for me. I don't like the characters at all, I don't have any desire to know how this all works out. Not for me.

Review: Nightstruck

Nightstruck - Jenna Black

I received a copy from Netgalley.


This is another one I’m not entirely sure what to make of. It’s described on Netgalley as “the start of a spooky yet romantic dark paranormal horror”. There is nothing romantic whatsoever in this book, at least not to this reader. It certainly managed the dark paranormal horror bit well. It starts off with a scary incident, and the dark creepiness doesn’t let up at all. Not even at the end. 


Becket lives in Center City in Philadelphia. She sees something strange in an alley, hears a cry that might be an abandoned baby whilst walking her dog Bob. All her instincts are telling her to run away and never look back but morality wins out. But that single incident is the start of a host of catastrophic events that change Becket’s world forever. It’s subtle changes that barely register at first. 


Her dad is the police commissioner and seems to be under the idea that all teenagers are vandals and morons and only out to do no good. Even his sensible daughter. Her best friend is Piper, one of the most popular girls at school. I loathed Piper. Piper is so popular that Becket practically has to make appointments to hang out with her when she can “fit into Piper’s schedule”. Not exactly my idea of a best friend no matter how nice they might be when you hang out. Piper comes from a very rich family and seems to do whatever the hell she wants to regardless of any consequences. 


She’s also dating Becket’s neighbor Luke, who unknown to Piper, Becket has had a big old crush on Luke, like, forever, just never done anything about it. She’s too shy. Becket follows the rules, is a good student and generally does what she’s supposed to. Even though occasionally Piper helps her rebel which usually goes wrong. Her police commissioner father is always harsh with the punishments (he doesn’t like Piper at all)


The city seems to be having a rash of violent crimes and bizzare incidents happening. A few of these are described in single chapters from the victim’s view points. Becket’s dad’s nerves are stretched to the breaking point. Becket starts noticing weird things herself and doesn’t know what to think, she’s either going crazy or something really really freaky could be happening. Since that baby incident. She rationalises every possibility that it could be, tries taking pictures of uncomfortable weird things she spots. Anything to prove that it’s not something supernaturally dark or weird. 


As a main character Becket is actually very likable. She’s strong, smart and despite bad taste in best friends, a capable girl who thinks things through and doesn’t jump to stupid conclusions. Even when things take a turn for the worst. Thankfully she’s not the only one who’s noticed things are weird and scary out in the world, particularly when the sun goes down. She’s hanging out with Luke at one point and points things out to him - he’s noticed it too. 


So what does it all mean? To make things worse Piper’s behavior is getting worse. She’s more callous, she flaunts the rules more than ever and speaks with little regard to what she’s saying or who she might be hurting. Luke’s fed up with her, even Becket is getting irritated. All the while at night things are getting more dark more scary and more violent out in the city.


It soon becomes a city wide epidemic of catastrophic chaos, violence, death, murder and darkness. Though once the sun comes up, things turn to normal. Becket is smart enough to protect herself when the chaos starts going down. I suppose the romance part comes from her feelings for Luke developing throughout, even though he’s supposedly with Piper, even after Piper’s personality hits rock bottom and she becomes part of the people involved in creating chaos in the night. (There are reasons for this of course). It’s a well done relationship starting off slow and a where are we going does this mean anything, what’s happening here? Despite the unravelling madness of the city, Becket has some pretty good teenage crush moments. Kind of a relief from the darkness and unpleasant atmosphere the novel creates. 


It has all the makings for a pretty good book, but there was just something about it that didn’t work for me. The unending parade of violence and bizarre acts just bothered me. I actually like horror novels, and horror movies. I’ve seen my fair share of very violent horror movies and read some very disturbing books where the horror and the gore just doesn’t let up. I actually really liked Becket as a main character, I even liked Luke. I even liked the grownups in this novel.


There was just something in this one I just did not like. I didn’t like the end much at all. I’m glad though I read that it was the start of a series according to the Netgalley page on this title because as a standalone I would have dropped the rating. While I wasn’t overly impressed with this book, if there is a sequel I’m still interested enough to know where this story is going. 


Thank you Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for approving my request to view the title. 

Review: The Darkest Lie

The Darkest Lie - Pintip Dunn

I received a copy from Netgalley.


TRIGGER WARNINGS: This novel deals with some uncomfortable issues that some might find triggering - sexual exploitation of minors, a student has an affair with a teacher which has a dark turn, nude photo manipulations going viral. 


I finished this book almost a week ago and I'm still not sure what to to make of it. 

t’s an okay YA mystery novel. It does deal with some rather dark themes I’ve not seen dealt with in this way before. The characters are likable enough, though the villain of the piece is easy to spot from about half way through. Having said that the reasons for why are fairly twisted. 


Cece lives in the type of small town where everyone knows everyone. Some time ago, six months or a year or so, can’t quite remember how long, her mother died under very scandalous circumstances - supposedly a suicide after the star of the high school football team claimed they were having an affair. Cece’s family is torn apart. Her dad is in complete denial, the kids at her school bully her mercilessly over the affair her mom supposedly had as that boy Tommy, is in Cece’s year and some of her classes. The only some what responsible adult in Cece’s life is her grandmother who comes to live with her and her dad, Grandma makes her living playing poker and gambling on the internet. The grandma is probably one of the most stable sensible adult in the novel. 


Cece just wants to finish school and get through with as little attention on herself as possible, so she tries to make herself as unnoticeable as she can. Yet one morning she spots the school queen bee and resident mean girl Mackenzie is tormenting a younger student for something she’s wearing, Cece is watching thinking she probably should help but doesn’t when gorgeous new boy Sam comes in and saves the day. He’s nice to the girl being picked on, Cece manages to find the courage to come help. Putting her on the mean girl’s radar. 


And the new guy’s too. When they get to know each other a little bit, turns out he’s a wannabe reporter working on a big journalism scholarship and needs a big story to land said scholarship. Cece has been in trouble in one of her classes and has to do some sort of community service as a result and takes a job working at the same volunteer crisis centre her mom ran before she died. There’s still some mystery surrounding that and as Cece starts her volunteer job, and meets Liam, the nice and hunky guy in charge of the crisis hotline, she comes to the realization that there may be a lot more to what happened to her mom than she ever realised. 


Sam gets involved as well and as they get to know each other they start delving into the mystery though Cece is reluctant to share information. She’s still victimized terribly with an awful lot of disgusting sexual innuendo from the jocks and their asshole friends. One boy in particular worse than the others. It’s pathetic name calling and jeers to a point and it’s crass and uncomfortable to read and hell for Cece. 


Whilst attending a party, she hears a drunk Tommy shouting he wants to talk to her and nodding at Cece. Which starts an argument with the bullies and the horrible discovery of her mom’s photo on what looks like a porn site. Next day said photo is all over school with Cece’s face and the body from the picture. 

(show spoiler)


It’s utterly mortifying for Cece. Who despite all the horrible teasing and jaunts seemed to hold herself pretty well. She doesn’t know how to talk to her dad, he doesn’t know how to deal with her, she’s having a terrible time at school, and while all this is going on she’s discovering there’s more to her mom than she could have ever realised and some pretty creepy things have been happening when she’s been alone at the crisis hotline. And to top it all off she starts getting scary text messages from an unknown source as she probs her mom’s death - which might not have been suicide after all. 


All while her feelings for Sam are getting deeper, and she’s getting closer and more friendly with Liam as well.  The relationship she develops with Sam is well written and takes it time to build trust growing to other feelings, Cece has her doubts when the mystery deepens and clues and evidence starts popping up. A journal written by her mom when she was a teenager is found which takes a pretty surprising and yet another uncomfortable dark twist. 


And it seems to be what happened to Cece’s mom when she was a girl may be happening still - and it may be happening to Sam’s younger sister who has revealed she has a much older boyfriend. 


It wasn’t a bad mystery and certainly had a few interesting twists and turns, though it was at least to me, fairly obvious who the baddie was from about half way through. There was definitely something uncomfortable about the nature of the story, and there were definitely certain parts of Cece’s inner monologue that were quite moving in parts. Though once the mystery was solved, the end was kind of irritating and a bit eye roll inducing. 


It was okay, I would definitely read something by this author again. 


Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for approving my request to view the title. 

Review: Stealing Snow

Stealing Snow - Danielle  Paige

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I requested this title on a bit of a whim. I was less than impressed with the author’s debut novel Dorothy Must Die, which I read about 200 pages of and gave up.I really wanted to give the author another chance as sometimes while I've hated first novels, I've really enjoyed the second novel. 


I had the same problems with Stealing Snow that I had with Dorothy Must Die. Certainly very creative, but I felt they were both very flashy but nothing had any substance. World building was all over the place, and the characters were flat.


Stealing Snow is “Snow Queen” retelling. I certainly credit it for it’s originality. It’s hard to think of a Snow Queen retelling without delving into a Frozen references, even though I didn’t like Stealing Snow, I was pleased to see the main character Snow’s ice magic was quite unique, and there was nothing resembling Frozen that I could pick out at all.


However, I just didn’t like this novel. It introduces the main character, Snow, who after trying to walk through a mirror as a child has spent almost her entire life in a mental hospital. She spends her days getting her education out of Encyclopaedias, a haze of drug cocktails, and watching a soap opera with her favourite staff nurse, getting into fights with one other difficult patient, a thief nicknamed Magpie, and swooning over a boy she calls Bale, a firebug who is her only friend but she is not allowed to see; for reasons of course.


At one point a strange boy, Jagger, shows up with a cryptic message Snow thinks is a dream, next think you know, she’s escaping and running into this new boy Jagger who leads her into a strange snow covered word called Algid. Somehow Bale has gotten loose – or something happens and Snow comes to learn Bale has escaped into Algid as well.


Snow meets a variety of characters who we don’t know if they’re good or bad. She learns of a the evil king has frozen the landscape and there is a prophecy of a girl who’s the most powerful thing ever – the king’s long lost daughter – she’s the most powerful thing in the whole world and this girl will off the king and set the world right again.  Of course she thinks it’s ridiculous but everyone else is convinced Snow is the long lost princess. As the novel progresses Snow starts to realise she is incredibly powerful; (of course) but can’t control her magic. She meets a River Witch and her assistants Kai and Gerda who offer to train her and get her ready for the prophecy after she runs off from Jagger deciding to search for Bale on her own.


As things progress and we learn some characters aren’t what they seem and new ones and new plot lines are introduced, Snow’s desperate search for Bale, the possibility that feelings for Jagger might be developing from tentative trust to something more.


There were bits of it I liked, as new characters were introduced, particularly when Snow falls in with a group of female thieves thanks to reuniting with Jagger after ditching him. The girls are all different and uniquely pretty in their own way, but do use some overly flashy and dramatic magic, run by a Queen Margot. She has her own plans for Snow and her magic.


While there were some bits of I like, the biggest problem I had with this novel was I came to loathe Snow. The girl was a fucking idiot. Each new group of people she meet warn her quite bluntly that the king knows she’s now in Algid and training her magic. He’s sent his most deadly warriors and magic beasts after her, including the feared and dreadful Enforcer.


Talk of Snow and the prophecy is strictly forbidden. On several occasions Snow ignores this completely and heads out into public places –

one market where she’s recognised and a little boy sings a song about her – the guards storm in and are about to execute the boy not giving a crap about the boy’s wailing parents. Snow kicks up a fuss and her uncontrollable magic lets loose and it’s a big fight between herself and the guards and the enforcer and big upset for the regular people.

(show spoiler)



She does this several times. Ignores warnings and the possibility she will put others in danger to do whatever the hell she wants. The thief group she joins sets her off on an initiation task. She’s given very strict instructions. It doesn’t go according to plan and Snow lets off her magic again – creating danger for those around her.


By the end of the novel I wanted to punch Snow several times. She’s a selfish moron. All she wants is to get Bale and get back to her own world. Fair enough, that’s understandable. But let’s ignore all the people who have been depending on you to show up learn your gifts and help make their world right.


There were quite a few twists at the end of the novel that were quite surprising and unseen. Certainly original, I will say that, definitely something I never saw coming. Unfortunately, I was so sick of Snow and fed up with the novel in general by the end that the twists just made me roll my eyes. Not a series I will be continuing.


Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Reader

The Reader - Traci Chee

I received a copy from Penguin First To Read.


This particular fantasy wasn’t on my immediate must have radar, I must admit. I knew of it, I was waiting for some reviews from blogs I followed before looking for closely at it. I took a chance at requesting when I saw it in Penguin’s First to Read list. It got off to a bit of a rocky start, I found it rather clunky and boring. Turns out by the end I absolutely loved this fantasy. I loved this fantasy so much I pre ordered a finished hard cover from the Book Depository.


I very nearly DNFed several times in the first 100 pages or so. The world building was interested enough. The bulk of the population of this world is illiterate, except a few chosen who belong to some sort of society that is very powerful (and possibly dangerous). History and stories and such are passed down through word of mouth. At first it almost seems like there’s no magic even, which is surprising in a YA fantasy. Turns out though magic does have a pretty big part to play by the end of the novel.


The novel starts by introducing the main character Sefia and her aunt leaving a busy town, the aunt has some sort of mysterious path and we learn right off she’s a brilliant thief. Shortly afterwards the aunt, Sefia’s only living family, is kidnapped by a group of masked people, men and women. Leaving Sefia alone with a strange object that she’s to protect at all costs. The object turns out to be a book. Sefia is left alone to reminisce about the deaths of her parents – both murdered – and how she escaped and came to her aunt. She has to figure out the purpose of the book and teach herself how to read it.


The world building was interesting enough, though I did find those first hundred pages very very slow. The story does jump in time to a year later after the kidnapping of Sefia’s aunt. I think it’s after that when most of the other characters are introduced.


Aside from Sefia, we are introduced a number of other different characters in different locations. The scene setting is quite visually striking and one thing I really loved about this fantasy was how the women were just as strong (in many occasions stronger) than the men. There was no shove the women to the background. The women in this novel pretty much kicked ass and were awesome.


After other characters are introduced – a young man with a gift for words is given the chance to join the society of Readers and become part of a mysterious Library to learn the words and the magic that comes with the knowledge of books. In training the guy’s magical abilities increase. He strikes up a friendship with a nameless Assassin in training. Which becomes one of the most incredibly moving, slow burning romances I’ve come across in a long time. This seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Sefia and her own book.


There’s another plot of a crew of pirates striking a deal to sail to the edge of the world, a mismatch of different characters with interesting histories. I was a little apprehensive when the pirate plot was introduced as the last few books I’ve read with this sort of thing I’ve not liked much at all. Turned out the story for these guys was one of my favourite parts of this book.


Sefia herself has become a Reader and is determined to rescue her aunt. In tracking her down, she comes across a group of mercenaries who seem to be abducting young boys and sending them off to some sort of fighting ring. Sefia inadvertently finds herself rescuing one of these boys she names Archer due to his proficieny with a bow and arrow. Archer appears to be unable to talk. I was worried when this happened that here comes the inevitable romance (it’s a YA fantasy after all). However, again I was quite pleased with how things progressed between Archer and Sefia, trust developed over time turning into friendship turning into more, the possibility of another incredibly slow burn romance.


While all of this is going on, the novel’s very unique take on magic begins to develop as the story progresses. It’s not obvious magic, flashy spells and such. Everything is more intricate, there’s magic in the young man’s studies, Sefia discovers a very powerful vision type magic when she kills someone for the first time, the Assassin has some pretty nifty and scary magic of her own. The more the novel progresses, the more the magic builds. Becoming pretty damn huge in Sefia’s part by the end.


Even though all the different characters were interesting enough and as neat as the storylines were, it’s like – where is all this going? It does all come together – but not in the way I would have ever guessed. The twist with the young scholar and the Assassin in training was pretty jaw droppingly awesome.


All in all by the end of this novel I was absolutely hooked and I cannot wait for the next book. I need it! Now!

Review: The Society

The Society - Jodie Andrefski

I received a copy from Netgalley.

An enjoyable story about a girl who takes her own styles of vigilantism against the bullies in her high school only to realise revenge isn't always the answer, especially when things take a turn for the worst and go too far.

Sam's dad went to prison just before Sam went to high school. He had an affair with her best friend's mom. The best friend Jessica, found out and whilst spying on Sam's dad and her mom discovered Sam's dad's criminal activities. Sam's dad went to prison, Jessica's parents broke up. Sam's mom took off leaving Sam in a trailer with her Aunt Lorretta Jessica turned on Sam and refused to have anything to do with her. As high school progressed Jessica became the Queen Bee of the mean girls and she and her friends took to making Sam miserable. Even though Sam had nothing to do with her dad’s criminal activities or the affair Sam is relentlessly bullied. Sam has a ray of light in her best friend Jeremey who sticks by her and shields her from the bullies as best he can.


 The school has a “secret” society, The Society (not the most creative name) but this group is the cream of the crop of the high school they attend. The most popular students are members and there are all sorts of benefits to being part of The Society. Sam knows she never had a shot in hell at the Society, but as Jessica is the queen bee – Sam decides the Society is perfect place to get her revenge on Jessica and the other mean girls.


So she formulates a plot and hacks into the Society website to manipulate it to her own needs, enlisting some of the nicer people, inviting them to join and complete the required initiation tasks she has redesigned with the intent of humiliating Jessica and the mean girls while getting the benefits The Society offers for her own friends.


All goes well at first, but like most revenge plots, the course of vigilantism doesn’t always run smoothly. Jeremy finds out Sam’s plans and is furious with her, imploring her to think about what she’s doing. Sam stubbornly refuses to listen as the mean girls are getting their comeuppance and Jessica’s reputation is going rapidly down the toilet. No one’s been hurt, so where’s the harm?


Given Sam’s situation it’s easy to understand why she feels the way she does and if she can do something about the people making her miserable, why not turn the tables on them and give them a taste of their own medicine? However, she’s not only manipulating them, she’s manipulating other people as well to do the tasks for her rather than doing anything herself. She’s the mastermind behind things. That’s not so bad, right? There’s a fine line here between what’s right and wrong and even though Sam believes she’s right….there’s definitely a morality issue here.


There’s also some weird side plot about Sam getting involved romantically with a motorcycle riding boy Ransom – whose sole intent with Sam becomes very clear right off (even though she can’t see it)


But things with Sam’s revenge plan get worse and people do start getting hurt. And on top of all these things with Ransom aren’t going as she thought and her feelings for Jeremy are changing. Jeremy’s uncharacteristically jealous the second he comes across Ransom. But as things become more and more chaotic with Sam’s plans and get worse and worse, she finally realises – what am I doing?


Spoiler but something I was surprisingly pleased with.

Sam actually turns herself into the police after a very serious turn when Jessica actually gets hurt and winds up in the hospital. While I didn’t always agree with Sam’s twisty turny plotting, I was quite impressed with her when she manned up and turned herself into the authorities willing to take full responsibly for her actions.

(show spoiler)



All in all, an enjoyable read with interesting characters, and a believable plot.


Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for approving my request to view the title.

DNF: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! - Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith

I have never been able to finish a Jane Austen novel. I often wonder if I'm the only one who simply does not like and will most likely never like her books. Though weirdly enough, sometimes I like retellings of classics. But even the addition of zombies can not make this bearable for me.



DNF: Kids of Appetite

Kids of Appetite - David Arnold

I received a copy from Penguin's First to Read.


Not for me. I keep picking this up, reading a few chapters and putting it aside. The story is simply not grabbing my attention at the moment. There is nothing wrong with the novel that I can think of, I don't hate any of the characters. It's a fairly interesting concept. Two different kids Victor and Mads both fall in with a group of very different misfits. There's been some sort of incident - a murder and the story flips between the different view points of Victor and Mads in their police interviews and the events leading up that lead them there. The problem for me is I'm not connecting to anything in this novel. So it's a DNF for me.