Review: Stolen Princess by Kelly St Clare

About the book:

Certainty is slipping through my fingers like pirates’ gold.

After escaping to our secret sanctuary, I’m haunted by the guilt of my decision. And the close call with Malice left me with more than doubt—I’m now harboring a magical fugitive.

When Cosmo reveals a darkness is spreading from his wound, our crew must brave capture by our enemies to cure him. But will saving his life leave me in fragments?

Answers to questions I’d rather ignore are forced savagely into the light. An ancient, tribal magic squeezes from all sides, leaving one treacherous path that I must walk beside my crew. Except, for the first time in my life, I’d rather walk alone.

Secrecy is becoming too much like normalcy.
Normalcy has become too much to bear.

What will be left when all is undone and I’m left in tatters?

Review by Katy Haye:

I read Immortal Plunder (check my review) when it first came out, and despite the fact that I love Kelly St Clare’s books, it took me a while to open Stolen Princess, as though I wasn’t sure whether I’d get on with these characters again after the long and lonely weeks had passed.

Utter madness! I was sucked into Ebba’s world within a page.

The Pirates of Felicity series is such fun to read. Ebba’s relationship with her fathers is a delight, and watching her with Cosmo and Jagger was tremendously entertaining.

In the second volume of the series there are twists and turns (some I’d guessed – others slapped me smack in the face), and there was also some glorious depth to the story and especially the relationships. Ebba is increasingly being hit over the head with the awareness that she can’t hide from things she doesn’t want to face forever.

Love, love, loved it – and now I’ve got to wait for the next, sigh…

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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Review: Shift of Shadow and Soul by Hilary Thompson

About the book:

In Weshen, magic is forbidden and punishable by death. Corentine has the worst kind.

Having Shifter magic is a curse, not a blessing. Coren must hide her power from everyone, especially Syashin, the General’s son.

But Sy’s secrets might be the key to unlocking her own.

Coren and Sy must work together, to either accept banishment, or rebel to save their home. The people are fugitives in their own country, and freedom must be taken, not given. Their only chance of survival is to defeat the Restless King.

Only then can their ruined society rise from the ashes… unless the Shadow finds them first.

Review by Katy Haye:

I have no idea how I found this book. It popped up on my kindle when I was in a “nothing to read” mood, scrolling through in desperate search of something worth spending time on. It might have been there for years so far as I know. What a waste because it’s a true treasure.

The world-building created a complex and varied world and the societies inside it were messy and slightly alarming. The writing was spare and skilful, painting a picture while still allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions about what was going on.

But it was the characters I truly fell in love with. Corin was a spiky, powerful delight who made me ache for everything she’d had to deal with already and everything looming in her future. Sy was weighed down by duty and expectations, but strong and determined to do the right thing whatever the cost to himself. Most importantly, characters changed during the course of the book. I would happily have tipped Resh off a cliff when we first met him, but he learned from the events of the story and developed an intelligence and character that meant I was happy to spend time with him by the end of the book.

And the relationships were spectacular. My usual complaint with YA is that the romances are far too easy. Boy meets girl and falls in love – even if boy or girl is actually a werewolf or a ghost, the actual path of the romance makes it look easy. That’s all very well (if a bit dull), but I think we’re doing our teens a disservice to suggest to them that the first person they feel attraction towards is bound to be their soulmate and everything will be smooth from that point (excepting the zombie apocalypse, natch).

Kids – puberty is traumatic and relationships can be spectacularly messy and painful. Like most things in life, you need practice to learn how to get along with another human being on an intimate basis.

Lesson over, A Shift of Shadow and Soul showed clearly how tangled and difficult relationships can be, but also that they’re worth persevering to figure out. And I loved it for that.

I absolutely adored every page of A Shift of Shadow and Soul. If you like magic and messy, imperfect worlds (and relationships!), it’s well worth checking out.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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Review: Golden Curse by M Lynn

About the book:

A curse. A hidden identity. A dangerous love.

Ten-year-old Persinette Basile was forced to flee the palace of Gaule for her life. Now at eighteen, she must find a way to return in order to obey a curse on her family line.

The prince won’t know who she is. Not anymore. But she knows him and what he will do if he discovers her true name.

Made to fight for her life to earn her place, she vows to find a way to break the curse no matter the cost.

To. The. Death. 

The words describing the tournament turn Prince Alexandre Durand’s blood to ice.

The last warrior standing will win a spot at his side.

As he’s thrust onto the throne, forbidden magic, dangerous betrayals, and a complicated love could tear his reign apart.

When the secrets begin to unravel, will Alex stay true to the laws and traditions of Gaule or will he give it all up for a woman who deceived him?

Review by Katy Haye:

Oh, Golden Curse was right up my street! Medieval-esque fantasy, royalty, magic and a paradoxical curse.

I loved the premise – outlawed magic that was the only thing keeping the kingdom safe, allied with a curse tying our magic-using heroine and magic-hating hero together.

The fantasy world was a delight to step into and M. Lynn’s characters were gorgeously real and conflicted. (I’ve got a soft spot for Tyson, personally – I hope there’s more of him in the next books.)

I would have liked more effort to convince Alex that magic wasn’t all bad. I guess I can understand the danger in that approach, but there’s a part of me thinking Etta should have sat on his chest and held a knife to his throat until he saw sense…

If you enjoyed Rachel E. Carter’s Black Mage series, or if Cage of Deceit or Spy in the Silver Palace (Golden Curse is much better!) are your type of books, then you’ll love Golden Curse. Grab your copy by clicking the cover above!

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Review: Wolf Bound by Holly Hook

About the book:

Loner, misfit, wild. Everything about the new guy at school, Cayden, should push me away. And when the wolves appear in the woods around town, one of them shares Cayden’s dark hair, red highlights, and his wild, noble eyes. Deep down, I know the explanation for his amazing hearing, graceful walk, and his ability to fight off guys twice his size.

I should fear him, but he draws me in. I’m alone, too, having lost parents at a young age. Only Cayden understands what it’s like to be different. But Cayden warns me off as his eyes yearn for me.

Turns out he’s right to. A rival pack and alpha who believe only the strongest should survive pursue Cayden’s family for the crime of protecting humans. They’ll attack anyone he cares about and now they’re settling in my hometown. It won’t be long before they destroy my home.

Staying away from Cayden is the safe thing to do. But without me, he’ll fight the savage werewolves alone.

If I turn away, I can’t live with myself. But if I turn to Cayden, I might die.

Review by Katy Haye:

Here’s an insight into my chaotic life that you never thought you’d need: I wrote my notes on Wolf Bound on a piece of paper from the notebook I always carry around. A day later, I needed to write a shopping list, so I added that on the back (frugal, you know?). Unfortunately, once I’d bought the shopping I threw the note away. So, I’m relying on my memory for this – apologies in advance as I’m almost certain to miss off something.

Wolf Bound was a solid, enjoyable read, but it didn’t quite reach the heights I wanted. Here’s the plus points first:

The characters were well-formed and I liked that the heroine’s male best friend WASN’T fighting a crush on her.

The relationship between Cayden and Brianna was lovely. Yes, he was a bit moody and inexplicable, but that was entirely fitting, given everything going on.

I LOVED the use of Beauty and the Beast for the school drama project, that was just gorgeous.

What I didn’t love was something I find a lot in paranormal books, which is that the reveal of werewolfiness was waaay too slow. Other readers might have different responses, but for me, I know when I pick it up that it’s a werewolf book and in this universe werewolves are real. So, I want to see fur and fangs. Of course it’s going to be a shock for the characters who DON’T know that werewolves are real, but they can just hurry up and get with the programme… For me, Wolf Bound took a bit too long to reach the “Is he what I think he is? I reckon he must be,” stage.

And reality intruded as I finished the book, leaving me wondering how they’re going to explain a bunch of shallow graves in the woods and the sudden disappearance of a boy who ought to be in school. I’m pretty sure that kind of thing gets checked out by authorities…

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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Review: Persuade by Wendi Wilson

About the book:

Vampires don’t exist.

Everyone knows that, but after a drug experiment gone wrong, a new generation of children share a frightening number of characteristics with the fictional bloodsucking monsters. Needing blood to survive. Advanced hearing capabilities. The ability to control people with their minds…

I’m Savanna James. Loner, outsider, whatever you want to call it, I have no friends, and that’s okay with me. Or at least, it was. Everything changed the day I met the Patton brothers. I knew what they were. Homo Altiorems, or Alts, the children born to participants in the XRT-90 trials. Three dark-haired, silver-eyed, smokin’ hot Alts, at my school, in my cafeteria, staring right at me. They insisted on getting to know me, because something about me was different. Special.

I went from having zero friends to having three boys devoted to me in every way. And they were right. I was different. There’s one thing I can do that no one else can, and it changed my life.

It changed theirs, too.

Review by Katy Haye:

I’ve heard a lot about Persuade, although when I finally picked it up I nearly put it straight back down again! It starts with that bizarre and persistent YA cliché of the heroine being bumped into by a hot, arrogant but strikingly gorgeous boy and her schoolbooks scattering everywhere.

Fortunately, I gave it more than a page, because it’s actually superb. The concept of altered humans (aka vampires) was fabulously plausible in a world otherwise identical to our own.

Persuade is a reverse harem book, so the heroine has several love interests, and the relationships were flat-out wonderful. The feelings and bonds between Savanna and her boyfriends evolved  from tentative to secure in a way that was true to life and utterly convincing, as well as being delightfully nuanced and realistic.

At its heart, Persuade is a vampire book, but it resonates with real life issues and problems that teenagers might face as they navigate into adulthood.

The writing is strong and the pacing’s superb – I’ve moved straight on to the next in the series because I can’t wait for more!

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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Review: Immortal Plunder (Pirates of Felicity) by Kelly St Clare

About the book:

There are three types of people in the Exosian Realm—males, females, and pirates.

I’m a pirate. One with six overprotective fathers for a crew. And if I’m telling the honest truth, not just the pirate truth, having so many fathers is working pretty well for me so far.

When I’m caught eavesdropping on the pirates of Malice, they retaliate with violence, and my fathers become set on revenge. But simple payback cascades into shattering misfortune.

Unexplainable magical happenings and impossible creatures propel me toward a fate much darker than stealing plunder. A terrible beast drags forth horrible truths of my fathers’ pasts which call my entire life into question. Now, my sheltered upbringing is swelling into a furious storm that I must, for the first time in seventeen years, navigate without my crew.

An intense russet-haired landlubber seeks to help me. A savvy silver-eyed Malice pirate strives to hinder me. But the further I drift, the more I wonder—am I helping or hindering myself?

Can I stand on my own two feet to claim victory?

And if so. . .what will that victory cost?

Review by Katy Haye:

A new release by Kelly St Clare is always cause for celebration in my house.

It only took a minute to fall completely in love with Ebba. What a glorious character – smart and determined and yet not stepping onto the page perfectly formed. Ebba has some growing to do and I loved walking alongside while her ideas were challenged and she found a strength she didn’t know she had.

Her fathers were also fabulous characters – with an added edge of intrigue. I can’t wait to find out what happened for Ebba to end up with six fathers who are the deadly enemies of the son of the man who was their captain.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. Kelly St Clare’s writing it always a delight to read, and Immortal Plunder led me on a glorious adventure with new revelations and growing magic at every twist and turn. Tremendously satisfying, I can’t wait for the next in a series I hope will run and run.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

NEWSFLASH: Awakened by Magic is FREE this weekend. Grab your copy at no risk whatsoever!

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Review: Facing the Sun by Carol Beth Anderson

About the book:

Tavi Malin is born facing the sun, filled with greater magic than any other sun-blessed child. At age fourteen, her magic awakens, but her uncontrolled power nearly destroys her school, leaving her confidence as shaken as her surroundings.
Tavi and her friends train to use their gifts, unaware of the threat developing in a distant city. Dissidents have banded together, and they’re killing to attain gray magic, an ominous new force that breaks the rules of ordinary magic. But to seize true power, the Grays must grow their ranks—and Tavi is a prize worth pursuing.
In a fight where confidence is as crucial as strength, even extraordinary gifts aren’t sufficient. If Tavi is to prevail against the Grays, she must find a courage that goes deeper than magic itself.

Review by Katy Haye:

This was a cut above anything I’ve read recently. Carol Beth Anderson has a hugely assured writing style that left me immersed in Tavi’s world.

A different and distinct magical system and a gloriously realistic fantasy world combined with a programme of faith unlike anything I’ve read before.

Facing the Sun is a coming of age story with real depth. I wasn’t sure at first when the narrative diverted from Tavi how things were going to work out, but the parallel thread of the ‘grays’ was fabulous, bringing with it a growing sense of threat and tension. It’s not just Tavi in danger, but her whole world.

This is the start of a series (a trilogy, I think), and not all the questions raised are answered in this first volume. I for one can’t wait to find out what happens next – for all the characters.

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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