Thursday, August 10, 2017

‘Hinder’ by Kristin Ping

3.5 stars - Creative spin on elemental magic in a YA Fantasy book.

Many supernatural beings exist in the fantasy world created by author Kristin Ping; vampires, shifters, sentinels, and so on.  This story focuses on witches, or magic Wielders, and their Benders.  In a refreshing twist on the classic understanding of witches and witchcraft, Ping designed a ying-and-yang type relationship whereby Wielders have power over an element (earth, wind, fire, water, metal, etc), but not enough control to use it safely.  Benders cannot generate their element from nothing (as Wielders can) but once their Wielder calls on their element, Benders control the flow and result of the magic.

Pair this new system of magic with your average high school drama, and you’ve got ‘Hinder.’  All around well-liked handsome jock, Ethan the Bender, has felt incomplete without his element, as his Wielder has been in hiding their whole lives.  Shy and timid Alex the Wielder has been hunted since birth for her ability to wield Earth, and gets picked on relentlessly upon joining Ethan’s public-school due to her magically altered appearance.

Earth Wielder and Earth Bender meet, attempt to fight their attraction to one another, train together, discover secrets from their parents’ youth, and try to make it to the end of the book alive.  With some colorful language and sexual innuendo thrown in for fun.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. 

Recommended for YA fantasy readers.  'Hinder' will be available in May 2018.

Monday, August 7, 2017

‘Colorless’ (Colorless #1) by Rita Stradling

4.5 stars

‘Colorless’ is a unique and intriguing read.  Author Rita Stradling has invented a new type of Magician and reimagined Gods and religious beliefs from the four directions (East, West, North, and South).  There are both supernatural and historical fiction elements to be found here.

From the blurb:

“Then Annabelle is informed of her parents’ sudden and simultaneous deaths, and all of the pigment drips out of her skin and hair, leaving her colorless. Within moments, Annabelle is invisible and forgotten by all who know her.”

While the plot of this book follows Annabelle as she strives to unravel the mystery of what has happened to her family, several characters narrate throughout the book, providing different perspectives, which I found quite refreshing.

Once again, Stradling has created relatable characters, and through her skilled writing, each interaction and connection between them seem genuine.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

Colorless’ will be available from all major book retailers on August 8th!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

‘Crimson Bound’ by Rosamund Hodge

5 stars

With ‘Crimson Bound,’ author Rosamund Hodge has once again created a beautiful fantasy world, rich with developed characters and scenic descriptions.  She has combined elements of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘The Girl Without Hands’ and has woven a dark fairy-tale that is very much her own creation.

Grab this engaging page-turner on Amazon, or from your local library today!

Friday, June 30, 2017

'Gilded Ashes' (Cruel Beauty Universe #1.5) by Rosamund Hodge

5 stars

'Gilded Ashes' is a beautifully written dark retelling of Cinderella, placed in the magical world imagined by author Rosamund Hodge in her fantastic debut novel, 'Cruel Beauty.'

Friday, June 16, 2017

‘Guardian of the Grail’ (Immortal Blood #1) by Elena Bryce

4.5 Stars

“Before vampires, they were Guardians. Drinking the blood of the Holy Grail, and sworn to protect it and the other sacred relics through the ages.”

Elena Bryce’s ‘Immortal Blood’ series follows the precious few who have drank from the Holy Grail, gaining enhanced strength, speed, night-vision, and other gifts; along with a responsibility to the Grail and the other sacred artifacts.  Author Bryce has combined aspects of the Christian religion with the legend of King Arthur and Merlin, as well as a host of supernatural creatures into a truly original and captivating paranormal urban fantasy series.

In ‘Guardian of the Grail,’ we follow Grail Vampire Lachlan Thorn and witch Ivy Meadows on their quest of protecting the Holy Grail while in transport so that it can be properly hidden once again.  You see, the Grail draws the attention and attraction of everyone in the surrounding area, whether they be human, vampire, witch, werewolf, fay, or otherwise magically inclined.

Though Lachlan and Ivy do some traveling together, their story focuses more on their personal journeys.  Through conversations between Lachlan and Ivy, readers learn about Lachlan’s past and the origination of Grail Guardians, and separately, vampires as known by modern popular culture.  We also learn much about Ivy’s family history of witches through the ages as she taps deeper into her powers.

As with all good paranormal fantasy novels, there is a ‘villain,’ perhaps the oldest of villains; known as The Wandering Jew.  Rumor has it he possesses all the advantages of vampires without any of the weaknesses and cannot be killed.  His search for the Grail and other sacred relics in his quest for power and domination brings him in direct contact with Lachlan and Ivy, and Lachlan’s family.

The characters may be ancient and powerful, but they are easy to care about and emphasize with.  Likewise, the story-telling nature of this novel was easy to read and enjoyable, and the fight scenes weren’t descriptively gruesome.

The ‘Immortal Blood’ series is solid paranormal urban fantasy.  The sequels to ‘Guardian of the Grail’ – both ‘Guardian of the Spear’ and ‘Guardian of the Thorn’ are currently available as part of the Kindle Unlimited Program.  Author Elena Bryce is also working on more novels set in this world.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

‘Lost Girl’ (Neverwood Chronicles #1) by Chanda Hahn

5 stars!

‘Lost Girl’ is a well-written page-turner and brilliant re-imagining of the Peter Pan tale we all know and love.  All the classic elements are present, each with a new spin.

For the first seven chapters, readers follow Wendy as a child, locked in the Neverland Institution on an island, fearful of the Red Skulls who force the doctors to run further experiments on the children.  Wendy is slow to make friends in her captivity, but the one she calls Boy, with green eyes and auburn hair, she knows she can trust.

Seven years later, Wendy has been adopted by George and Mary, has become an older sister to their son John, and has made a life for herself in high school.  All this despite the nightmares and shadows that seem to haunt her.  When the shape-shifting shadows attack in public, and Wendy can no longer fight what she sees and pretend that she is normal, she runs away from home to avoid being institutionalized again.  Instead, she falls in with Peter, Tink, and the Lost Boys at their Neverwood Academy hideout, in an awkward dance of secrets versus trust.

Rumor has it the sequel, ‘Lost Boy’ will be published very soon.  Get your copy of ‘Lost Girl’ while it’s on sale!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

‘Shadow Fall’ (Shadow Fall #1) by Audrey Grey

5 stars!

‘Shadow Fall’ is a captivating, imaginative and expertly written YA dystopian novel.  Author Audrey Grey blends just the right amount of emotional grit and environmental upheaval with the intrigue of court life, a rebel faction, and two feuding princes.

Readers follow teenager Maia Graystone as she journeys from the darkest, most hopeless place within the asteroid-threatened planet and vies for a spot among the Gold Court on their space station.

Along the way, she struggles with her memories and emotions, and with the very concept of who to place her trust in.  Conflicting and suppressed memories of her inventor Father and the hidden messages he left for her further compound her trust issues.  Once aboard the space station, her interactions with the Gold Prince, her former betrothed and perfect DNA match have Maia questioning, yet again, where her allegiances lay and whom she should trust.  Simultaneously, the more she learns about the Bastard Prince helping her in the Trials, the more internally conflicted she feels.

Perfect for fans of Rachel E. Carter’s ‘Black Mage’ series! 

The sequel to ‘Shadow Fall’ - ‘Shadow Rise’ - is expected out in November 2017.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

Friday, June 9, 2017

‘The Crowns of Croswald’ (The Croswald 1) by D.E. Night

5 magical stars!

This is a delightful YA fantasy story involving a young lady with magical abilities and a magic school where she finds herself belonging.  This book feels reminiscent of Harry Potter, in all the right ways.

Book Blurb:
“In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret… 

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.”

Young Ivy Lovely, care-taker of scaldrons (cute dragons that provide fire for cooking food for a castle) is content enough with her lot in life, though she secretly wishes for more.  She shows talent for remembering her dreams, a photographic memory, and being able to perfectly sketch what she sees; all of these traits of magic-wielders called Scrivenists.  When a series of events leads her and the smallest scaldron in her care to a cab floating in the sky and whisks them away to magic school, it’s more than Ivy could have ever dreamt of.

Perfect for fans of ‘Harry Potter’!

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

‘The Crowns of Croswald’ will be available on July 21, 2017.

‘Ethereal’ and the Celestra series by Addison Moore

5 paranormal stars!

Ethereal introduces readers to author Addison Moore’s re-imagined take on angels; teenagers attending high school with all the usual drama that high school ensues, who happen to have powers based on which of the five factions of angels they are born into.  Readers are introduced to the underlying supernatural story line as the main character, Skyla Messenger, slowly discovers these aspects.  It is clear from the start that much more is happening than the snippets of information shared with Skyla.

The dialog and writing style are catchy and successfully captivated my attention, not just during ‘Ethereal,’ but also throughout other books in the Celestra series. The central characters are well written and easy to care about.  The love triangle between Skyla, Logan, and Gage is front-and-center, but it seems justified based on plot lines and I enjoy it.  I’ve jumped right into the next book after reading each in this series; highly recommend. 

Please note that Celestra #’s 1-8 are Young Adult.  All others, including ‘Ethereal Knights’ and ‘Perfect Love’ are New Adult.

A digital copy of ‘Ethereal’ is available for free with all major book retailers.

Celestra reading order:
Crown of Ashes (Celestra Forever After, #4) – Releasing Summer 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

‘Girls Made of Snow and Glass’ by Melissa Bashardoust

5 enchanting stars!

'Girls Made of Snow and Glass' is the best Snow White re-telling I've ever read. This is an amazingly clever re-imagining of the Step-Mother's motivations and history, and her relationship with the King and the young Princess. 

Debut author Melissa Bashardoust captivates with vivid descriptions and open emotions, alternating perspectives between Queen and Princess. 

An absolute gem. Beautifully done!

I voluntarily read an Advanced Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

‘Girls Made of Snow and Glass’ will be available on September 5, 2017.