Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles, #1) by Farah Oomerbhoy

4 stars!

Aurora Firedrake, the last of the Firedrakes, grew up in ‘our world,’ entirely unaware of the magical realm of Avalonia and her past.  When she is brought to a faraway land, she must quickly adapt to a new lifestyle, political upheaval, and a cute boy who doesn’t ever seem to stick around long enough.

In her debut novel, Oomerbhoy skillfully puts together a captivating tale with mages, fairies, shape-shifters, and more.  We follow the coming-of-age adventure of Aurora as she navigates uncharted territory; both in new lands and boys.  Along the way, she forms friendships, attends magic school for mages, makes several bad decisions, has a few awkward conversations with boys, and struggles to do what she thinks is right.  Everything you can expect from a teenage girl who has recently discovered a new world.

The book is narrated entirely by Aurora; readers gain insight to her thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and memories.  We can experience fancy ball gowns, extravagant meals, and lavish castles through exquisitely detailed descriptions.  Readers also enjoy knowing her thoughts on the handsome and mysterious boy that intrigues Aurora.

‘The Last of the Firedrakes’ held my interest and kept me flipping pages to find out what happens next.  I found some similarities to the Harry Potter series and some ideas related to King Arthur legends, but those familiar aspects only made me want to read more.  Recommended for any YA or fantasy reader.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

5 stars!

'Mad About Hatter' is a brilliant and humorous spin-off of the traditional ‘Alice in Wonderland’ tale, in which Henry, Alice's brother, finds himself in the mysterious oft-talked-about Wonderland after a dinner with Alice. This is an enjoyable YA book with no love triangle; there is a straightforward, gradually built romance that feels natural. The romance is between Henry and Hatter, and if you were to replace Henry's name with Alice, or any other feminine name, the YA (PG rated) romance would mostly read the same. Nothing feels forced, there is no mental breakdown over, "oh no, I kissed another boy," just a pure YA romance in the middle of Wonderland fun and all the topsie-turvy antics that come with it. Recommend for any YA reader who enjoys a new take on fairy tales!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz

5 Stars!  Fantastic magical tale, very fun read, could not put down!

“Shattered Blue” is beautifully interwoven with multiple points of view and remarkable poetry mixed in. We meet Noa, the heroine, as she and her family struggle to deal with the loss of her older sister (several pages are incredibly sad, be forewarned if you have experienced a loss recently.) Interactions between Noa’s friends and family members feel authentic; there is a lot of love and support. Things begin to seem easier when Callum slowly enters Noa’s life and their developing romance is enjoyable to watch. 

Horowitz writes from the point of view of three main characters in “Shattered Blue,” Noa and brothers Callum and Judah. Each section adds different perspectives as the plot develops.

“Shattered Blue” is incredibly well-written and has a carefully planned plot and cast of characters. There is plenty of action and magic, secrets and plot twists, surprises, hidden romances, and little high school drama thrown in for fun. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lumière (The Illumination Paradox #1) by Jacqueline Garlick

4 stars!

The beautiful cover art of ‘Lumiere’ first caught my attention, and when the description mentioned a steampunk invention and an unknown world, I was excited to read this book!  It was everything I had hoped for; a fun adventure through a descriptive fantasy world with well-developed characters and enough mystery to keep me guessing until the end.

In ‘Lumiere,’ we follow main character, resilient Eyelet, as she flees the only home she’s ever known and unknowingly runs into the perfect person for her situation; clever and resourceful Urlick.  As a guest in Urlick’s strange house full of mysterious and intricate inventions, in a geographical area she hadn’t known existed, Eyelet discovers what happened to the world the night her father died, the night of the Great Illumination.  As Eyelet and Urlick team together on a quest in attempt to make her father’s machine function and undo the consequences of that fateful night, they encounter vapours, beings that behave as ghouls, and evil, power-hungry ordinary men.  A good portion of this book is action-adventure, traveling through the well-described scenery of a dystopian altered-Earth.

Garlick’s tale includes a fascinating combination of magic, science and steampunk, with the potential for hidden worlds, Valkyries, talking ravens, and delightfully wonky inventions.  The characters are easy to root for, having human qualities, kind hearts, and noble intentions.  Their various physical deformities endear them to each other, and the reader.  That Eyelet and Urlick developed feelings for each other over time and thanks, in part, to the various situations they found themselves in is a refreshing break from the popular YA-genre ‘instalove.’  Their entire interaction, including their feelings for each other, is realistic and develops over time.

‘Lumiere’ is written mostly from Eyelet's point of view, with several chapters narrated by Urlick.  This book is suitable for younger audiences and enjoyable for older YA readers as well.  Looking forward to the sequel, Noir, releasing on 8/18!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.