Thursday, December 21, 2017

‘Ash Princess’ by Laura Sebastian

4 stars

‘Ash Princess’ is YA high fantasy with traces of elemental magic and no love triangle.  Sure, there are two age-appropriate characters who occasionally steal a kiss with the Ash Princess, but there’s no direct competition and she is not conflicted between them.

Our protagonist and narrator, Princess Theodosia, has suffered through much.  As a child, she was helpless when a brutal regime conquered her kingdom and forced her people into slavery; those who weren’t out-right slaughtered, like her mother, the former queen.  Theo, renamed by the evil king as Thora, copes fairly well for all she has suffered through, even if her thoughts grew repetitive as the story progressed.  Readers are privy to her thoughts and we see much of, “’Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.’”

When this brutal leader forces her hand and keeping him happy no longer ensures her safety, Theo joins the rebels in a plot to disrupt the Kaiser’s reign.  There’s a prince, a forbidden romance, and court intrigue.  All in all, an enjoyable read.  Looking forward to the next entry in this series!

‘Ash Princess’ will be available from booksellers on April 24, 2018.

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

#AshPrincess #NetGalley

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 on Kindle Unlimited 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.

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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

‘The Rise of the Dawnstar’ (The Avalonia Chronicles #2) by Farah Oomerbhoy

In ‘The Last of the Firedrakes’ (review here) we saw main character Aurora as she became aware of the magical realm of Avalonia, and all the fairies, mages, and other mythical creatures that exist.  She was thrust into a foreign world with political upheaval, a complicated family history, and had her first flirtation with a boy.

In ‘Rise of the Dawnstar,’ we follow Aurora as she meets new allies, new boys, and learns more about her Fae abilities.

The Avalonia Chronicles are page-turners through and through, and their slight similarities to the Harry Potter series and King Arthur legends only made me want to keep reading. Recommended for any YA or fantasy reader.

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

‘The Rise of the Dawnstar’ will be available on April 24, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

‘Golden’ (Golden, #1) by K.M. Robinson

Some books begin in the middle of an action scene and then elaborate on characters and circumstances as they go. Others begin in the middle of an under-cover operation and the narrating character explains to the reader their motivations and circumstances, and the book can still be enjoyable. Sadly, Golden failed to adequately draw me in, as readers are not given enough details of the circumstances, and we do not come to know the characters all that well.

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

‘Hook: Exiles of the Realm’ by Adrienne Bell

4 stars

There’s the magical Fae realm ruled by King Oberon, there’s the Underworld, ruled by Hades, and then there’s Earth.  When notorious thief, Captain James Hook, gets himself exiled from the Fae realm, along with four other fairy-tale themed law-breakers, he hatches up a plan to get them all sent back.  Even if his scheme involves magical relics, a witty mortal lady, and Hades himself.

Recommended for fans of fantasy and paranormal romance.  Please note that this tale is *not* a spin on Peter Pan.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

‘Descendants’ by Rae Else

3 stars

“Descendants is the first book in the Young Adult, Urban Fantasy trilogy: The Arete Series.”

With ‘Descendants’ author Rae Else has created a mythology of sorts with the actual descendants of Medusa and similar mythological creatures.  Intriguing story-line; carefully planned out and well-written.

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

‘Descendants’ will be available on April 12, 2017.

Friday, March 17, 2017

‘Myths of Mish’ (Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles #2) by Katie Hamstead

4.5 magical stars!

This is a clever and futuristic re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, with another fairy tale mixed in for good measure.  (No spoilers here, you’ll have to read to find out which!)

Older brother Hansel is head strong and super protective of his sister Gretel, especially ever since their father’s new wife tried to lose them in the woods when they were children.  Now that Hansel is 21, his father has given up trying to form an alliance via his marriage, and instead has arranged for sweet, 17-year-old Gretel to marry a neighboring President.  Fearing for his sister’s safety and happiness, Hansel steals her away in the middle of the night to avoid early morning nuptials.  Gretel’s childhood friend, Wilhelmine (Minna), sneaks onboard the spaceship to help look after of them.

As Hansel, Gretel, and Minna journey off on the adventure of a lifetime, they learn more about each other and themselves.

Perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer’s ‘The Lunar Chronicles’!

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

‘Myths of Mish’ will be available as part of the Kindle Unlimited programstarting on March 28, 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

‘Neverland’ (Adventures in Neverland #1) by Anna Katmore

Book Blurb:
Strange things are happening in Neverland…

Although Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales, she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. Literally! But who is this flying boy who saved her? And why doesn’t he want to grow up?

Desperately trying to find a way off this cursed island, Angelina runs into a ruthless pirate. Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, to lure the flying boy out of his hiding. 

But is Hook really the heartless man she heard about? The more time Angel spends with him, the more she starts to wonder. Her growing feelings for him are as intense as shocking, and soon she can’t stop thinking about how soft his lips felt on hers when he kissed her under the stars. 

As time passes, an old train ticket to London is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying to find a way home.

Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?

Grab a happy thought and follow Angel on an adventure that will keep you breathless and smiling long after you read the last page…

Mind the cliffhanger! The sequel PAN’S REVENGE is already available!

4.5 magical stars!

Narrated in parts by Angelina and James Hook, Anna Katmore's re-imagining is a beautiful family-centric YA fairy tale which borrows some elements of the 'Peter Pan' we all know and love, while adding several unique aspects.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy fairy tale re-tellings!

Both 'Neverland' and its sequel, 'Pan's Revenge' are available as part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

'Brother’s Ruin' (Industrial Magic, #1) by Emma Newman

4 magical stars!

‘Brother’s Ruin’ tells the tale of a brother-sister pair who both seem to possess a bit of magic.  Charlotte Gunn is very protective of her slightly older sibling, Benjamin, who in turn, is an appreciative and doting older brother.  The sibling interactions in ‘Brother’s Ruin’ are truly heartwarming.

Every so often, Benjamin gets inexplicably sick and must put his life at the university on hold while he recovers, usually under his sister’s care.  He wishes his health would improve so that he can complete his studies, start making money and contribute to his family’s household, and thereby gain approval from his parents.  Charlotte’s life is somewhat of the opposite, when we meet her.  She is happily in love with her fiancĂ©, and is already earning an income as an illustrator, though it is under a fake name, due to her gender.  She understands that foolish societal norms prohibit her from earning equal pay if she were to submit her work as a woman, and also that her parents would be embarrassed if they were to learn of the size of her income, or her contributions to their household’s finances.

When their father gets himself in trouble with vicious debt collectors, he calls upon the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts, mistakenly believing that his son possesses impressive magic.  The Royal Society pays family handsomely when they take magic-wielding children into their fold, and so Mr. Gunn believes this will solve all their problems.  However, Mr. Gunn has neglected to account for the penalty of false-reporting.

Magi of the Royal Society live to serve the crown.  They are not permitted to marry or have children, and are rarely able to visit their own families.  As Charlotte is the stronger mage, content to hide her abilities in order to marry her fiancĂ© and have children, her father has unknowingly put her in a precarious situation. 

Watching the magic unfold in during Benjamin’s magic testing was delightful, and author Emma Newman concludes this first entry in her ‘Industrial Magic’ series with a surprise twist.  I look forward to reading what happens next!

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

‘Brother’s Ruin’ will be available on March 14, 2017!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

‘The Last Magician’ by Lisa Maxwell

4 magical stars!

YA fantasy author Lisa Maxwell sweeps us up in a tale that transcends time, centered around the streets of New York City, with gangs and magicians.

‘The Last Magician’ is a wonderful blend of magic and time travel.  In a city torn apart by those who do not possess an affinity for magic - but seek to control those who do – a magical barrier was created long ago, to trap magicians.  In modern day New York City, magic has nearly died out completely. 

Our main character, Esta, has trained as a thief her entire life.  She is able to use her magical affinity to control time, and with the aid of a gem that enhances her affinity, she can also travel through time.  Her teacher and father-figure lays out a course of robberies for her over the years, to accumulate various magical artifacts, in pursuit of an endeavor to change the past and create a more secure future for those with magic.

We first meet Esta in the middle of an exciting heist in 1926.  Soon she is sent back from present day NYC to 1901 in order to stop the Magician from stealing the Book.  The very same Book she is tasked with bringing into present day in order to change things.  However, the gem used to enhance Esta’s affinity cannot exist in two places at the same time, and since it already exists in New York City in the 1901 Esta jumped into, her gem disappears upon arrival.  Much of Maxwell’s book consists of following Esta for weeks in 1901, navigating among the mageus of the time, and their gangs.

The story is told through several perspectives; through Esta’s, through the Last Magician’s, and a few others.  Transitions are easy to follow, and different points of view during a single heist is sometimes appreciated.

What I enjoyed most about ‘The Last Magician’ was the world building, the magic affinities, and the relationships between the mageus in 1901.  I look forward to reading what happens next!

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

‘The Last Magician’ will be available in July 18, 2017!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

'Ensnared' by Rita Stradling

5 magical stars!

‘Ensnared’ is a fantastic re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.  Perfect for fans of 'The Lunar Chronicles' by Marissa Meyer.  It takes place in the near future, with slightly more advanced technology, including AI systems that run households and self-driving vehicles.

When Alainn’s genius father racks up serious debts between inventing robots and gambling, he takes a job from the wealthy recluse Lorccan, who is already happy with his work.  Rosebud is the AI running his private tower home, a home where no human is welcome.  When Alainn’s father and brother are unable to finish the new robot on time for Lorccan, the robot itself comes up with the idea for Alainn to take her place.  Though Rose was modeled after Alainn and the two appear to be nearly identical, readers must employ a slight suspension of disbelief as Alainn joins Lorccan’s household without him realizing she is human.

As one might expect for a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, Lorccan, wealthy recluse that he is, is physically scarred.  Turns out he commissioned the life-like robot, Rose, for the purpose of becoming more comfortable with others, so that he may eventually interact with real people, face-to-face.  Even the AI running his solitary tower, Rosebud, encourages Alainn to interact with him; to save him.

‘Ensnared’ takes on a life of its own, advancing beyond the usual Beauty and the Beast narrative, as Rose-the-robot advances past her programming and acts increasingly independently to further her own agenda.

The connections between the characters in this story are sweet and touching.  The robotics and technology are explained with enough detail to be believable.  Though we are not treated to singing candelabras, there are some adorable robot monkeys to look forward to.

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

'Ensnared' will be available in May 2017!

Friday, February 10, 2017

‘Blood Rose Rebellion’ (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1) by Rosalyn Eves

3.5 magical stars

In her debut YA fantasy novel, author Rosalyn Eves shows great potential. She combines the real-life revolution in Victorian Era Hungary with a fictional main character, Anna, who seems to be the only member of her family born without magic. Eves provides vivid descriptions for several different types of magic throughout this tale. While the spell work is exciting, the dry writing prevents the book from being truly magical.

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

‘Blood Rose Rebellion’ will be available on March 28, 2017!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

‘Waging War’ and ‘Cheating Death’ (The Immortal Descendants #4-5) by April White

5 death-defying stars!

‘Marking Time’ review.
‘Tempting Fate’ review.
‘Changing Nature’ review.

Spoilers ahead:

‘Waging War’ follows Saira on an incredible journey through time and ends in the mother of all cliff-hangers.  Dive straight into book 5:

‘Cheating Death’ is an excellent conclusion to a delightful and complex series.  Readers finally learn the truth about what happened between the original Immortals, as well as the motivation and connections behind all the pot-stirring Mongers.

‘Cheating Death’ is the fifth and final entry in a completed five-book series about Clockers, Seers, Shifters, War Mongers, and Suckers.  Stay tuned to author April White for a spin-off series in the future! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

‘Cashmere’ (Velvet Trilogy #2) by Temple West

4 stars for the second entry in Temple West's 'Velvet' series.

Whereas 'Velvet' set the stage for life in high school for Caitlin and her friends and provided clear descriptions for demons and a new kind of vampire (rest assured, these are non-sparkly vampires), 'Cashmere' focuses more on Caitlin's fashion internship and her design talents. I can only assume author Temple West has personal experience with fabric, sewing, and fashion; as the descriptions are detailed and vivid.

'Cashmere' picks up where 'Velvet' left off. Readers follow Caitlin, Adrian, Trish, Jenny, et al through the end of their high school year, including an incredible prom scene. Though Caitlin and Adrian spend less time together in this book, readers will appreciate Caitlin's new discoveries of supernatural laws and history, and the time she spends with her internship bodyguards, Kalare and Julian.

Both 'Velvet' and 'Cashmere' are highly recommended to YA supernatural romance fans.

'Cashmere' will be available on February 14, 2017!

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

‘Velvet’ (Velvet Trilogy #1) by Temple West

4 red velvet stars

‘Velvet’ begins our tale of Caitlin, whose mother loses her battle with cancer just days before their house is sold and Caitlin moves from Connecticut to upstate New York to live with her Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin in sleepy Stony Creek.  Several pages are incredibly sad, be forewarned if you have experienced a loss recently.

Caitlin’s hot, reclusive, and charming next-door-neighbor is soon revealed to have supernatural abilities.  Adrian is a half-demon, half-vampire, super-smart pop-culture dork with a fun streak and serious respect for his elders.  Over time, he not only explains how advanced chemistry and basic algebra work, but also how vampires come to be and why they need both blood and food to survive.

Much to Caitlin’s delight, Adrian is assigned as her personal bodyguard by the vampire Counsel when his demon father sets his sights on her.  To avoid suspicion from the humans at their high school where she is junior and he’s a senior, they pretend to be a young couple in love.  The two share some really sweet scenes as they start to really fall for each other, though they must to hide their true feelings from Adrian’s family and the Counsel as vampires are forbidden to date humans and are discouraged from interacting with them, under normal circumstances.

I highly recommended this book to YA supernatural romance fans.  ‘Velvet’ is available for purchase, and might be hiding in your local library.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

‘Last Stand’ (The Black Mage #4) by Rachel E. Carter

5 magical stars!

‘Last Stand’ is the epic conclusion to Rachel E. Carter’s fantastic ‘Black Mage’ series, wrapping up all four books and one novella.  Links to the earlier books in this series, and book reviews, are provided below.  Please expect spoilers for the series in the below review.

Read the series from the beginning:
Non-Heir’ Novella Review

‘The Black Mage’ series has pulled my heartstrings at times along the way, but this entry was by far the most emotional to read.  Carter’s writing is flawless; the challenge comes in accepting Mage Ryiah’s choices and watching the consequences play out.  As this series has advanced, the Mages have kept up with their physical training and magic casting, however, political intrigue has become an increasingly larger part of the plot.  ‘Last Stand’ puts an even larger focus on political intrigue and dealings at court, and the many battles resulting from court maneuvers.

My heart was shattered at the end of book 3, ‘Candidate,’ but the worst was yet to come.  Ryiah and Darren both make difficult choices and go through quite a lot in this book.  I wish their path could have been easier, but the end result was worth it.  Along the way, there are some lovely scenes, including a wedding, and some descriptive-yet-clean romance.  As newlyweds, the witty banter between Ryiah and Darren was a bit more personal, and the romantic teasing had both Ryiah and me blushing.  As always, Carter’s intricate descriptions were one of the high points of her novel. 

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

‘Last Stand’ will be available on February 7, 2017!

‘Non-Heir’ (The Black Mage 0.5) by Rachel E. Carter

5 stars!

Excellent addition to The Black Mage series revolving around Prince Darren's childhood.  Readers gain insight to his family history, early training, and everything that goes into 'why he is the way he is' when Ryiah first meets him.  Can be read any time after 'First Year.'

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

‘Changing Nature’ (The Immortal Descendants #3) by April White

5 time traveling stars!

‘Marking Time’ review.
‘Tempting Fate’ review.

Spoilers ahead:

‘Marking Time’ followed Clocker Saira Elian as she discovered the secret Family lines descended from five Immortals; Time, Fate, Nature, War, and Death.  She was sent to an exclusive private boarding school in London, where these descendants learn more about their abilities as well as receive a general education.  She made friends with Seers and Shifters, and found herself in trouble with Mongers, who seek to ‘police’ within their own species.  Saira eventually learned why she is a target; she is of mixed blood and is dating a Vampire, descended from Death. 

When an evil Monger-Vampire attempted to trap Saira’s Clocker mother in 1888, she and her allies, Archer and Ringo, stepped in for the rescue, at all costs.

‘Tempting Fate’ reunited ‘the gang’ as Saira, Archer, and Ringo traveled to Tudor England and disrupted the same evil Monger-Vampire’s plan to execute Lady Elizabeth Boleyn before she could become Queen.  Saira learned firsthand that permanent disruptions in the timeline are possible and are large-scale disastrous.

The third installment of ‘The Immortal Descendants’ series begins with more daring public displays of aggression from Mongers, as they kidnap dozens of mixed-bloods.  After several failed attempts at abducting both Saira and Archer, the gang escapes back in time, hoping to fix the anomaly that has created the permanent shift in the time stream.

‘Changing Nature’ is the third in a completed five-book series about Clockers, Seers, Shifters, War Mongers, and Suckers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

‘Tempting Fate’ (The Immortal Descendants #2) by April White

'Tempting Fate' takes us back to Tudor England, and brings Clocker Saira and the gang face-to-face with Queen Elizabeth shortly before her reign begins, as they attempt to a thwart nefarious Monger-Vampire plot.

‘Tempting Fate’ is the second in a completed five-book series about Clockers, Seers, Shifters, War Mongers, and Suckers.  Available here.

'Marking Time' review.

Monday, January 23, 2017

‘Marking Time’ (The Immortal Descendants #1) by April White

5 time traveling stars!

Fantastic read!  ‘Marking Time’ has a well-thought out plot, strong character development, fun humor, and its own mysterious mythology.  Readers are thrown into a centuries-old tale right alongside the main character and we get to discover secrets as she does; sometimes before she clearly pieces things together.  Part mystery, part supernatural tale with time travel and just enough YA romance to hit the spot.

‘Marking Time’ is permanently free on Amazon, and is the first in a five-book series about Clockers, Seers, Shifters, War Mongers, and Suckers.

Friday, January 20, 2017

'One Past Midnight' by Jessica Shirvington

4.5 stars 

Jessica Shirvington has done it again!  YA novel with a paranormal element narrated by a competent teenage girl.  'One Past Midnight' is just as good as Shirvington's 'Embrace' series.

This book has us follow 18-year-old Sabine through her two different lives in two slightly different worlds.  Sabine is the only one she knows who shifts through the worlds every 24 hours, promptly at midnight.  When we meet her, she has parents, siblings, friends, and a nearly complete high school education in both worlds, and is a bit tired of shifting between them.  She notices a difference in her shifting; that physical changes no longer shift with her, and this opens up new possibilities for her.

There was a really nice surprise hiding in the last few pages of the book.

'One Past Midnight' is available in bookstores, and may even be hiding in your library, like my copy was!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

‘Renegade Red’ (The Light #2) by Lauren Bird Horowitz

3 stars 

Read review for 'Shattered Blue'

‘Renegade Red’ picks up where ‘Shattered Blue’ ended; Noa and magical Fae brothers Callum and Judah have just jumped through the portal between their worlds, to search for their little sister.  Magic is even more present, and we are still treated to Noa’s beautiful poetry.  But beware, deep psychological dreams and thoughts are to be had.

While ‘Shattered Blue’ properly dealt with grief over a lost sister/daughter, the book had many sad moments.  ‘Renegade Red’ seems to have just as many, but lacks the support network of family and friends to assist with coping.  In fact, far more goes wrong in this book, with dark twists and turns, and a dystopian society complete with slavery and death camps.

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

‘Renegade Red’ is available for pre-order and releases on March 14, 2017.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Series Review: ‘Embrace’ (The Violet Eden Chapters) by Jessica Shirvington

5 stars!

This series is action-adventure with clean romance and a paranormal backdrop.

Debut author Jessica Shirvington has skillfully mastered the art of combining a feisty and independent mature teenage girl with a slowly revealed supernatural world that she becomes part of on her seventeenth birthday.  Readers get a strong sense of Violet’s relationships with parents and friends before she discovers all that is hidden.

The supernatural world, in this case, is the existence of angel-human hybrids called Grigori and fallen angels (both light and dark) called Exiles.  Grigori are warriors who are assigned (preordained) fighting partners.  While the series includes a fair amount of religious history as a backdrop for explaining fallen angels on Earth, I would not consider this a “Christian” book.  No specific religious ideas are pushed onto main characters, or the reader.

Shirvington does an excellent job of not overwhelming Violet, and the readers, revealing only so much information at once.  Violet discovers her partner, her abilities, her strength, and some insight into her own family history at a slow and believable pace.  She is a realistic teenage narrator, providing reactions that will resonate with readers, as well as enjoyable snark and sarcasm where applicable.

Readers are quickly introduced to Violet’s family and friends.  Though Violet has a hefty crush on her mentor/fitness instructor, Lincoln, she finds that he is not the only good looking young man to capture her attention.  Phoenix and Lincoln seem to be polar opposites, which may confuse Violet, but is refreshing for the rest of us.  Though they do form a love triangle of sorts, there is no insta-love involved.  I found it easy to see why she likes both Lincoln and Phoenix, and the occasional romantic tension is an asset to the series.

Check your local library for all five books of the ‘Embrace’ series, or start the series for less than a dollar on Amazon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

‘Candidate’ (The Black Mage, #3) by Rachel E. Carter

5 magical stars!

Once again, author Rachel E Carter has captivated attention for the duration of this novel, and gave me *all* the feels.

After the three-year apprenticeship, the Combat, Restoration, and Alchemy mages were ranked and offered posts at various cities in the country, based on those ranks.  Ryiah was determined to have an opportunity in one of the more dangerous cities before her 'new responsibilities' kept her close to the Crown's palace.  I was glad for her to see familiar faces while on patrol up in Ferren's Keep, and the feisty banter between Ryiah and Prince Darren never disappoints.

Carter's continued elaborate and vivid descriptions of battle scenes played a large role in my enjoyment of the Candidacy tournaments, and the political reveals had me on the edge of my seat.  

Can't wait to see what happens next, in the 'Last Stand', available February 7, 2017.

Read the series from the beginning:

'First Year' Review