Saturday, November 18, 2017

‘By a Charm and a Curse’ by Jaime Questell

5 enchanting stars:

Come one, come all, and prepare to be amazed!

In Jamie Questell’s stunning debut, a traveling carnival is affected ‘By a Charm and a Curse.’  There is something unearthly about Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic; how its performers never fall or injure themselves no matter how daring the stunts.  How its members don’t seem to age like people outside the carnival.  How it has existed, and thrived, for decades without financial difficulties.

The heart of this mystery lies in the heart of the carnival itself.

Teenage carnival guest Emmaline King’s life change drastically with just one kiss.  She joins the Carnival Fantastic and slowly falls for its carpenter apprentice.  Together they seek to uncover the origin of the supernatural curse and work to unravel it.

Author Jaime Questell’s writing is flawless.  This is a nail-biting page turner worthy of the sleep you’ll miss while seeing it through to the end.  The main characters are well-developed and easy to root for as they mature on their quest to break the curse.

‘By a Charm and a Curse’ is a self-contained stand-alone supernatural novel with a complete ending.  It will be available from booksellers on February 6, 2018.

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

#ByAcharmAndAcurse #NetGalley

Thursday, November 2, 2017

‘Enchant’ (The Enchanted Series #1) by Micalea Smeltzer

5 stars!

‘Enchant’ is a beautifully written YA paranormal romance.  Though author Micalea Smeltzer makes use of some familiar YA tropes (teenage girl unknowingly about to come into her powers on her nearing birthday and is thrown into the hidden supernatural world she never knew she was born into) this book holds its own within the genre. 

I love the witty banter and teasing between main character Mara and her protector, Theodore.  His younger sister, Adelaide, adds to the realistic and sarcasm-laced dialog.

Theo is part charming and suave, part brooding silent type, and at all times sarcastic.  His protectiveness of his sister and his charge is heartwarming, even when it leads him to be ridiculous.  His serious side is intriguing, but his playful side is book-boyfriend worthy.

Mara, for her part, holds her own with witty comebacks and dedication to learning all she can about magic, supernatural beings, and preparing for the impending battle with the group that killed her parents.  I found both her moral compass and willingness to do what must be done without whining to be refreshing.  She was a fun character to root for!

This book ends on a cliffhanger, cannot wait to find out what happens next!  ‘Enchant’ will be available from booksellers on November 17, 2017.

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

#Enchant,Ya,MicaleaSmeltzer,EnchantedSeries #NetGalley

Monday, October 9, 2017

‘Unblinking’ (The Shuttered Lands Trilogy, #1) by Kira Carter

4 stars

‘Unblinking’ is an interesting take on a futuristic dystopia and, a believable one at that.  In Minka and Zedd's world, environmental disasters have rendered most of the planet uninhabitable.  Our two main characters grow up in The Tower Lands, a cluster of ten connected skyscrapers within which every aspect of their lives occur.  Education, employment, and entertainment are all provided within these Towers, by the mysterious elite Trustees. 

Privacy is forfeited in exchange for security and transparency, the ever-watchful unblinking Eye can see and record everyone, at every moment (with the exception of small rooms in which to change clothing and use the bathroom.)  Children are even tracked through their educational years, there is no opt-out of this monitoring.  

Employment is found only through helping to maintain the Towers or to provide entertainment; entertainment involves watching individual's Streams or channels, much like the cable TV selection we have today.  Except that the most successful and watched Streams are 'edited' and include nudity or profanity or otherwise embarrassing moments that an individual would rather not share with the entire world.

At first, Zedd enjoys his new job as an Editor, taking an individual's Stream and splicing it together in such a way that it becomes more fun to watch; always at the cost of the individual.  Minka is one such victim.  She is unwillingly thrust into Stream popularity when a simple trip-and-fall in her high school cafeteria appears on a 'Too Hot' Stream, edited for maximum embarrassment when her head accidentally lands in an athlete's clothed lap.

Zedd starts to fall for the subject of his work projects and wants to help Minka escape to one of the other small settlements that still exist in the wake the environmental disasters.  As a Tower Worker, he has access to information about how life used to be, and how to leave the Towers.  Minka, on the other hand, repeatedly gets in trouble with her parents and the Tower Trustees as she tries to research these things on her own.

Zedd wants to help Minka, despite Minka’s understandable hatred for the as-yet-unnamed Editor who has made her life miserable.  Will he be able to help her escape?  Will she let him?  Find out!

'Unblinking' is currently part of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

‘The Uncrossing’ by Melissa Eastlake

4 solid stars:

'The Uncrossing' is as much about magic as it is a slow-burn YA romance.  Author Melissa Eastlake drops readers in the middle of a set of families who have been working together for generations, each person specializing in a different type of magic.  Eastlake has skillfully brought to life a unique and complex system of magic and an enchanting re-imagined New York City.  She employs an enjoyable blend of fantasy with real-world subway transit and social media.

Luke and Jeremy are young men caught a web of magic spun generations prior.  Though their families are allies, there are many secrets between them.  As they slowly fall for each other, these secrets are unraveled lead to an old curse involving them all.

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

'The Uncrossing' will be available at booksellers on October 2nd, 2017.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

‘Coiled’ by H.L. Burke

4 enchanting stars!

'Coiled’ is a well-written retelling of the story of Eros and Psyche.  In this case, there are a set of twin Princesses and a set of twin Princes with a mirror curse cast upon each set.  Their fathers, the two Kings, are friends, and like all fairytale Kings, they set out to unite their kingdoms via marriage of their children.

The mirror curses are such that Princess Laidra becomes more and more ugly on the outside as she uses her gift to heal people and show them kindness.  Her sister has the inverse, the other half of the curse.  Princess Ellea’s outward beauty grows each time she is mean or nasty.  While the girls’ curse is tied to their personalities and choices they actively make, the boys’ curse allows them less control.  Each Prince has a human form and a serpent form.  One Prince remains human unless someone lays eyes on him, and the other remains a serpent until someone lays eyes on him. 

As a result of their curses (and some rather nasty parenting), Prince Volen and Princess Ellea are paraded in front of their kingdoms as the beautiful and human heirs to the throne.  They easily maintain these positions by having guards constantly watch Prince Volen and for Princess Ellea to continue to be nasty in order to keep up her beauty.

Princess Laidra could actively choose not to help people, and her warts and scars would disappear over time, but that’s not who she is.  Prince Calen has no such choice; even his own mother must wear a blindfold while in his presence, or else he turns into a mindless serpent.

As the Kings plan for Volen and Ellea’s marriage to unite their kingdoms and plot to resolve the curses set upon their children, chaos, romance, and intervention from mythological Greek Gods ensue.  Enjoy!

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

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.