Review: The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

About the book:

A bitter and reclusive prince. A determined intruder. An unlikely friendship.

His face scarred from a witch’s curse, Prince Sebastian retreats inside his castle, resentful and angry. He shuns contact with everyone except the Red Hoods, the elite soldiers he trains and leads.

Four years ago, Sienna was kidnapped. Still traumatized by her ordeal, she needs to learn to protect herself to feel safe again, and she wants the Prince to train her.

Reluctantly, Sebastian agrees.

But long-held beliefs aren’t so easy to cast aside. Can the bitter soldier and the haunted girl overcome their demons? Or will their pasts rip them apart?


Review by Katy Haye:

This year’s reading has been binges and slumps since Spring. I’m delighted to tell you that The Scarred Prince tugged me out of a slump that had left me sighing and tossing aside every book I seemed to pick up for the last month.

Sienna is an absolute delight of a heroine: smart, resourceful, she knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it. I loved her.

And the writing and pacing was just such fun: fast-moving and tremendously enjoyable. I read the whole thing with a smile on my face.

The romance is full of emotion, but as a glorious change from the norm, it doesn’t mark an end to the story. Sienna has plenty else she intends to do before she gets married and starts to even think about babies.

This is a stand-alone story, but it fits into a bigger world with plenty more stories to come. I can’t wait to try the next. Highly recommended!

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New Release Klaxon: The River Queen’s Spell

It’s a new release from one of the Piranhas. The River Queen’s Spell is now available and completes Hanna and Jaran’s story.

About the book:

Winning everything she desired only gave her something to lose…

Queen Hanna has secured the heart of her prince – now the king – but her position is as perilous as it ever was. King Jaran needs an heir, and a year after their wedding Hanna is still not pregnant. Enemies at court smile to her face while plotting behind her back, using her failure to produce an heir to weaken the crown and strengthen the hand of Muirland’s disgraced mages.

Jaran and Hanna both know the issue lies with Jaran, but if his secret were known it would threaten his rule. Unwilling to countenance infidelity, Hanna is determined to find a solution – but when that solution relies on magic, can she persuade cynical King Jaran to trust in the River Queen’s Spell?

Step into the Firethorn Kingdoms once again to discover whether Jaran and Hanna can secure their truly happy ending.

Posted in fantasy, fiction, friendship, magic, YA, Young Adult

Review: The Harvest by K B Benson

About the book:

Sometimes the most beautiful things grow in darkness.

Iris never expected to live her life trapped on land. Nor was she prepared for what she would find there. A siren isn’t supposed to fall in love with her prey.

When Jace moved to Santa Cruz, he never imagined he’d risk his life to protect a monster. He soon finds that ancient myth has become reality. And not every pretty face is what it seems.

After Iris sings her siren’s song to Jace — a hypnotic melody that leads men to death beneath the waves — both of their worlds are turned upside down. Will Iris give in to her bloodlust or will she turn her back on everything she’s ever known?

As the tide runs red with the blood of the Harvest, Iris must choose: save the life of the human boy she loves or sacrifice her chance at humanity forever.

Review by Katy Haye:

I loved the take on mermaid and siren mythology. There was a strong and unsettling sense of menace throughout, creating a fabulous atmosphere.

The romantic relationship was well developed and I liked that it was just impossible for things to work out well for Jace and Iris, which paradoxically made me really hope that it would.

What I didn’t like: I know it’s the first in a trilogy, but I didn’t like that it ended without a full resolution. But overall, I’m glad I picked this up.

Recommended!

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Review: Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

About the book:

Marit vowed never to use magic again – its force can be fatal. But when her best friend Eve is adopted by a legendary former dancer, Marit draws upon her powers to secure a job with the wealthy family so that she can watch over her. But Marit has another, secret motivation: her father died while working in the family’s mines, and she has reason to believe he was murdered.

Among the glittering surfaces and intrigues of her new life in Copenhagen, Marit begins to investigate her father’s death. But every step closer to the truth brings more danger and soon she is caught in a deception that goes all the way up to the king. Magic may be the only thing that can save her – if it doesn’t kill her first.



Review by Katy Haye:

Splinters of Scarlet was a sumptuous treat. A historical fantasy based in a magical nineteenth-century Denmark, it was rich and absorbing.

The magic that formed the core of the book was beautifully handled – equal parts blessing and curse, all users of magic are aware that they are on borrowed time, using abilities that will one day freeze their blood and kill them.

Marit was a wonderful character, bearing the scars of losing both her parents and her sister (who died from magical ‘firn’ in front of her eyes), and her devotion to Eve, the fellow orphan whom she loves as a sister provided her with powerful motivation to do whatever was required to in order to ensure Eve’s happiness. This balance between staying safe and risking all for another provided a wonderful push and pull throughout the book.

The mystery running through the story of what happened to Marit’s father held some glorious twists and turns, and the denouement made me blink back tears.

Highly recommended!

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Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

About the book:

Eve is 16 and special. She lives alone in the Tower under the strict gaze of the Mothers, because she is the last girl on Earth. Now it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three males have been selected and the future of humanity lies in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But can you choose between love and the future of the human race?



Review by Katy Haye:

Eve of Man was a real treat – absorbing and entertaining while also thought-provoking. It had a little of everything: romance, thriller, post-apocalyptic, coming of age. The pages simply swept past as the tension rose and danger tightened around our heroic pair.

The premise was great – for the past 50 years all babies have been male … except one. Eve is now of age to start reproducing, and that’s the future she faces, with whichever of the very small shortlist of males found for her. But of course, life never goes to plan (or not in stories, at least).

The world-building was very strong, creating a very slightly sinister and unsettlingly likely post-apocalypse. I loved the way Bram started to peel back layers and connect the dots and I absolutely loved how it all tied together. As is perfect for the first in a series, as one issue was resolved, the danger increased and the world opened up and twisted to something different and more threatening.

Eve and Bram have a whole new species of problems waiting for them, and I’ll definitely be reading along!

PS, sorry to US readers. Until I went on Amazon to copy the back cover copy, I didn’t realise Eve of Man wasn’t out everywhere. I’ve had the paperback on my shelves for months but you’ve got to wait a couple of weeks, or splash out on the hardback.

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Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

About the book:

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.


Review by Katy Haye:

Oh, this was a real treat! The story is based on Norse mythology (the twisted tree of the title being Yggdrasil, the Norse tree of life), but set in the modern day. Its atmosphere of creeping danger was utterly compelling and – at times – hair-raising. Martha was a fabulous character, discovering her strengths as she was thrown in at the deep end when myth collides with her reality.

Stig provided an excellent foil for Martha, as well as driving the narrative by asking the questions the reader couldn’t. I especially liked that there was the definite potential for romance, but this wasn’t rushed and convenient, and even this was coloured by the creepy uncertainty of the story as a whole.

If you want something a bit different which will grab hold of you and not let go until the last word, I highly recommend The Twisted Tree.

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Review: Red Rider by Kate Avery Ellison

About the book:

Werewolves. A human resistance. And a girl caught between two worlds.

Red Riding Hood meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this post-apocalyptic YA fairytale retelling!

In a land where a werewolf army called the Sworn rule over the humans and walking corpses called treecrawlers roam the wilderness between settlements, orphaned Red has a secret that she and her grandmother have been hiding for years. She’s one of the Chosen, the despised young women selected to bear children in the stead of barren female werewolves.

Red keeps her identifying mark hidden, and she doesn’t take advantage of the luxuries available to the future mothers of the Sworn. But her secret is discovered when she rescues her rebel boyfriend from execution for treason, and she can hide the truth no longer.

Red is intercepted by a dangerous young Sworn named Vixor Rae, a prince among the werewolves, and taken through the dangerous wilderness to serve her fate in the capital.

Vixor intrigues Red against her will, but he is her enemy, and she wants nothing more than to see him dead.

But when treecrawlers attack the Sworn caravan headed for the capital, and only Red and Vixor survive, the two must rely on each other to make it out of the perilous wilderness alive.

Review by Katy Haye:

I had mixed feelings about Red Rider. It’s fabulously creative, with a glorious fantasy world intermingling paranormal elements with good old human foibles. I really enjoyed the twists and turns as Red was taken out of her element and nothing was quite as it seemed.

However, I found the writing a little pedestrian in places. There’s no need to use the word “weak” three times in one paragraph – brush off your thesaurus or get a proof-reader to suggest some alternatives.

In summary, the story is highly entertaining, and if you aren’t a ridiculous pedant like myself I’m confident you’ll enjoy Red Rider tremendously. If you are a ridiculous pedant, be warned that you may be dragged out of the story now and then by lack-lustre prose, but hopefully the vibrant world-building and tense situations will make up for that!

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Review: Legacy Witch by Ashley McLeo

About the book:

I had no idea what I was getting into by enrolling at Spellcasters Spy Academy.
Nada. Zilch.
I was such a sweet summer child.
But honestly, who would guess that no one likes a Legacy who skips out on the academy entrance exam?

Oops.

Also I’d really like to know why my crush hates my guts?

Mega ouch.

Or why no one ever mentioned that someone is killing off students in my year.

Yikes . . .

And just when I think I’ve found my footing, I discover that my magic has been hiding something incredible all my life.

WTAH?

So what’s a witch supposed to do about all these problems? Unleash my power, find the murderer, and show my peers what sort of awesome they’ve been missing out on all year—that’s what.

Review by Katy Haye:

Legacy Witch is a lively, fun read. It’s full of good things: a mystery to be solved, friendships to be forged, the class uberbitch to be defeated, magic to be unleashed, demons to be hunted, and hot guys to be kissed.

I loved the relationships, and particularly the way the romantic aspect was simply one thread amongst many and not the be-all and end-all of Odette’s time at college. The friendships were strong and convincing, and I just love reading about healthy friendships. Even the enmity with Diana was convincingly drawn, was put aside when more important matters arose and was resolved satisfactorily without anyone becoming a stereotype.

Legacy Witch is the start in a series I think is now complete, and it makes for a great introduction to an exciting world. Highly recommended.

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Review: Dragon Mage Academy: Princess of Dragons by Cordelia Castel

About the book:

A disguised princess. A murder most malicious. A dragon condemned to death.

Desperate to escape a forced marriage, seventeen-year-old Princess Alba disguises herself to join the all-male Dragon Mage Academy.

Her plans go wrong when a dragon accused of murder forms a telepathic link: the deepest possible bond between dragon and rider.

And it can only mean one thing:

If the dragon is executed, Alba will die.

With her fate intertwined with that of the condemned dragon, Alba must prove its innocence to save both their lives.

But can she achieve this before the Academy’s rigorous regime breaks Alba’s spirit?

Review by Katy Haye:

Good fun, and a lively addition to the dragon genre. I loved the world Cordelia Castel created, with a mash up of fantasy and fairytale.

Alba was a lively, entertaining character. I loved her independence and determination. I was initially annoyed by her refusal to query Fyri’s claim of innocence. She’d only just met the dragon, so I thought her instant belief was unlikely. Either she should have challenged Fyri and discussed the matter fully, or there could have been some fantastical explanation – because they were linked, she *knew* Fyri was telling the truth, for example. As it was, I thought it made her come across as rather naïve.

I did enjoy the friendships she built with the other students – and her interactions with the faculty were extremely amusing.

The story was fast-paced and the eventual resolution was very satisfying and provided a perfect conclusion to all the twists and turns we encountered.

I’ll definitely read more from Cordelia Castel!

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New Release Klaxon: Nine Dragons Gold by Katy Haye

Congratulations to Piranha Katy Haye, whose new book is out today. Nine Dragons Gold takes the reader on another excursion into the Firethorn Kingdoms.

The cover of Nine Dragons Gold, featuring a dark-haired young woman on a background of orange flames.

A courtly game. An impossible prize.

Lady Hanna is used to being the neglected, unwanted daughter, ignored by a father who only values his sons.

Until Muirland’s crown prince needs a wife.

Suddenly, Hanna is dragged from her quiet life and taken to the royal court, where it is a matter of life and death to fulfil her father’s ambitions by beating the other candidates and winning the prince’s hand.

But four other girls – beautiful, clever and determined – are also vying to become the princess. Inexperienced Hanna must learn to navigate the treacherous currents of court life – and friendship – if she is to have any chance of securing a glittering future for herself.

Click on the image to step into Hanna’s world, a place full of magic … and danger.

 

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