Review: Rowan Wood Legends by Olivia Wildenstein

About the book:

SOME LEGENDS ARE BETTER LEFT UNTOLD

I wasn’t the sort of girl who believed in fairytales, let alone tales about faeries. But that changed the day Faeries came to my small town and Hunters rose from their graves.

On that fateful day, I received a book, a peculiar collection of myths and legends. Turns out it was so much more than stories. And just as I was on the verge of unlocking its secrets, it was stolen from me by someone I called a friend.

Now, I don’t know whom I can turn to, whom I can trust. All I know is that there are two sides, and I am straddling the great divide because I am both Faerie and Hunter. And although I swore I would never choose, I am slowly falling for one of those sides…

Cover of Olivia Wildenstein's Rowan Wood Legends

…And just check out that GORgeous cover!

Review by Katy Haye:

If you haven’t read Rose Petal Graves (first in the series), then go grab yourself a copy right now. It’s utterly glorious.

Rowan Wood Legends kept up the same high level of writing I’ve come to know and love about Olivia Wildenstein’s books. The mythology surrounding the faeries and the hunters is absolutely delicious. This instalment brought excellent developments in character, plot and the legends themselves.

I particularly loved the knife-edge split with characters appearing friends one minute and foe the next. I’m still not entirely sure who to trust, since I vacillated all the way through!

However, I am firmly on Catori’s side and want it to all work out for her (hmm, with one person in particular, perhaps – maybe I am taking sides where the heroes are concerned). Can’t wait to see if we get peace between the faeries and the hunters – or a huge battle!

Grab your copy now.

When not reading, Katy writes speculative YA fiction. Steampunk short The Replacement Princess is available right now for FREE.

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CLASSIC YA The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

“the existential angst of adolescence”

I hardly know how to start to write a review of The Catcher in the Rye. Published in 1951, it’s a book so famous surely anyone who is interested in reading books with teen protagonists will already have read it. I expect people to know who I’m talking about when I reference Holden Caulfield. My own copy of the book doesn’t even have a blurb or a cover illustration – readers are expected to know what they are picking up.

My copy from 1981

But no list of Classic YA could possibly be without The Catcher in the Rye, so here goes:

16-year-old Holden Caulfield has been asked to leave his expensive New England boarding school. He hasn’t done anything shocking. He simply skips lessons and doesn’t apply himself. He mopes about at school, irritating and being irritated by the people who surround him, counting the days until he’ll have to go home and reveal that he’s failed at yet another school. He sets off into New York trying to distract himself until the moment when he’ll have to face the wrath of his parents. Here he reaches out to old friends, teachers, bartenders, taxi drivers and a prostitute, but each time it seems people want something from him and he feels that each person he interacts with is, in his words, ‘phony’ or fake. In contrast with this, from the reader’s perspective, Holden could not be more honest. We see the story from deep down inside his head, how he feels about what’s going on, reflections on his own behaviour, the people around him, events from the past triggered by what’s going on.

People who don’t like the book often complain the Holden is just a whiner, but for me, The Catcher in the Rye captures the very essence of what it is to be an adolescent. Holden aspires to things that are part of the adult world like drinking and smoking and sex and he feels trapped by the things imposed on him by the educational establishment and his parents. He is almost entirely self-focused, analysing his own behaviour and struggling to see anything from anyone else’s perspective. The light for Holden comes in thinking about childhood, the pure joy of his relationship with his dead brother Allie and his observations of his younger sister Phoebe. It’s Phoebe who will save; she catches him when he’s falling by showing him she needs to be caught.

It’s entirely possible that I love The Catcher in the Rye because it was a book that fell into my lap at a time in my life when I needed to read a book like this. There weren’t so very many books that focused on the existential angst of adolescence around back then, while today there are shelves full. Though surely none so pure, so heartfelt as Holden Caulfield’s angst.

Read it. See what you think.

 

Claire Watts


More to Read!

There are a few other works by Salinger, though he was a notorious recluse who published nothing between 1965 and his death in 2010. I’ve found interesting to read The Catcher in the Rye alongside S E Hinton’s The Outsiders (published 15 years later) which I’m going to review later in the month.


Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Her latest YA novel is Gingerbread & Cupcake.

 

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Review: The Perilous In-between by Cortney Pearson

About the book:

Even the sky has secrets.

Victoria Digby’s life in Chuzzlewit is picturesque. Ideal. Born to a good family, she’s also the star pilot in the Aviatory’s Protection Program, one of twelve young ladies assigned to protect their town from the Kreak—a deadly, mechanical creature residing in the nearby ocean.

Enter Graham Birkley, a peculiar boy claiming to be from a strange place Victoria has never heard of. Graham enlists her help looking for a lost friend, a man no one in town has ever heard of either. The more she gets to know Graham, the more she not only loses her heart, but also all sense of security about the life she thought she loved. Graham knows secrets about people, things he couldn’t possibly know, including a secret about Victoria that she has yet to uncover.

Mostly, Graham knows what the sky is hiding. And when he tells her the truth, getting rid of the Kreak is no longer Victoria’s biggest problem.

Getting out of Chuzzlewit is.

Review by Katy Haye:

Frankly, I knew I was going to love this book from the first scene where the heroine and her friends were described as wearing “battle corsets”. The Perilous In-between was a glorious romp in a steampunk, fantastical Victorian world.

The Perilous In-between had everything I loved: courageous pilots (who happen to be kick-ass young women), a stuffy lord anti-love-interest (if there is such a thing – I’m sure you know what I mean), thwarted love renewed (the subplot with Oscar and Rosalind was simply gorgeous), a demonic device rising from the seas, an inescapable town, lots of intrigue and a fabulous dollop of romance.

The characters were gorgeous, real and multi-dimensional and I was rooting for them all. And while I’d be a bit cautious about getting stuck there, I would definitely enjoy a trip to Chuzzlewit for a holiday.

If you like steampunk you’re going to love this one – and if you’ve never tried steampunk before, this would be a great place to start.

Highly recommended!

The Perilous In-between is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds and you CANNOT read it anywhere else! You CAN get a copy today for just .99 right now. As well as The Perilous In-between and my own The Clockwork War to sate steampunk appetites, you’ll also get 20+ other novels covering all your fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi and dystopian reading needs.

Grab a copy now!

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Shattered Worlds is live!

New release klaxon!

Shattered Worlds is now live and available to buy and read. This is all your fantasy holiday reading wrapped up in one volume: 20+ exclusive stories for just .99.

Most importantly, Shattered Worlds is the ONLY way to get your hands on Piranha Katy Haye’s new novel, The Clockwork War. Meet Clara Lissing in an alternate 1940s England as she works to end the war with Scotland and fetch her brother home from the army.

Grab your copy right now!

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CLASSIC YA Anne of Avonlea by L M Montgomery

“a delightful, escapist slice of life”

Red-headed, hot-tempered orphan Anne of Green Gables is one of those children’s book characters people know about even if they’ve never read the actual book. She’s feisty, imaginative, always getting into scrapes and completely lovable. But what fewer people realise is that Anne was just the first in a series that followed our heroine through school-teaching and college, to marriage and life as a country doctor’s wife. Those later books are far too sentimental for me – the last is called Anne’s House of Dreams – but I remembered the second, Anne of Avonlea, with as much fondness as I felt for Anne of Green Gables. Anne is sixteen at the beginning of the book. She’s been away to school for a year and has come back to be teacher at Avonlea school. Teacher – at sixteen – what were these people thinking? But she gets on with the job very nicely thank you, despite the misgivings of all around her when she declares she will rule her classroom with love rather than beating her children. There’s a fair number of scrapes again and Anne continues to look for the romance in the everyday. But unlike the first book, here Anne isn’t seeking a home and acceptance; she has already won these things. While the main focus is still on Anne and her life, other people’s stories take centre stage a lot of the time, so that this feels more like the story of a community. And though some romantic ends are tied up in the book’s closing pages, they’re not quite the ones the reader has been hoping for.

I did enjoy my reread of Anne of Avonlea. This was actually the first of the Anne books I read years ago, so for me Anne is more the young adult presented here than the affection-starved orphan of the first book. It’s a fascinating look into the world of rural Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century, a delightful, escapist slice of life. I’m not sure many of today’s young readers would give it a second glance, when you consider the fast-paced and hard-hitting stories that are marketed towards them. But why not? It’s about growing up and figuring who you are and where you fit in the world. And it is rather lovely.

Claire Watts


More to Read!

Obviously, you should read Anne of Green Gables if you haven’t yet. There are some children’s classics that don’t live up their promise, but AoGG is NOT one of them. And if you love Anne of Avonlea, you’ll probably enjoy Anne of the Island, when Anne finally gets to go to university. I wouldn’t bother with the other books in the series, but you never know, they might do it for you. And while you’re in the market for orphans, you could try Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster.


Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Her latest YA novel is Gingerbread & Cupcake.

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Shattered Worlds exclusive – JL Weil, Starbound

This fantastic YA paranormal romance is exclusive to the Shattered Worlds Boxed Set!

About STARBOUND: FML is becoming Katia’s motto for senior year. Things couldn’t get any worse, or so she thought. After another uppity party that ends badly, she finds herself stumbling down the street with a broken heel. So when the guy she’s had a mad crush on since preschool offers Katia a ride, she couldn’t say no. But she should have. Seth Nightingale was trouble.

Seth just made the biggest mistake of his life, and there is no way to fix it. He kissed Katia Montgomery. What hell had he been thinking? The problem is, when Katia is around, his mind turns to mush. Torn between his affection for Katia and his desire to not die, Seth is forced to deal with the very thing he’s been avoiding his entire life.

A dark curse and deep-seated deception leads Katia and Seth closer to their ill-fated destiny. They will have to overcome ancient magick, toe-curling lust, and love if they want to survive.

Be sure to check out STARBOUND, available for only 99cents along with 22 other amazing science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, and dystopian stories in the Shattered Worlds Boxed Set! The set comes out on August 8, but you can pre-order it now and get some exclusive bonuses!

Pre-order SHATTERED WORLDS on:

Join our pre-release Facebook party this summer, where there are TONS of chances to win swag and books for readers as many different authors will be hosting alllll summer long. We’d love to see you over there!

And there’s a HUGE giveaway for author services like editing and promo packages too. Check that out here. Something for everyone!

Help us spread the word about the boxed set! Go here for details–this one’s easy and has a gift card AND a Kindle!

Oh! And I bet you’re wondering about those bonus books for pre-ordering. You’ll get access to 17 bonus novels by the Shattered Worlds authors simply by 1. Pre-ordering the Shattered Worlds boxed set, and 2. Emailing a screenshot of your proof of purchase or forwarding your purchase receipt to shatteredboxedset@gmail.com. A link will be sent back to you with the links for you to download your free bonus books. That’s it!!

Spend a dollar. Get 40 books. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

About J.L. Weil: USA TODAY Bestselling author J.L. Weil lives in Illinois where she writes Teen & New Adult Paranormal Romances about spunky, smart mouth girls who always wind up in dire situations. For every sassy girl, there is an equally mouthwatering, overprotective guy. Of course, there is lots of kissing. And stuff.

An admitted addict to Love Pink clothes, raspberry mochas from Starbucks, and Jensen Ackles. She loves gushing about books and Supernatural with her readers.

She is the author of the International Bestselling Raven & Divisa series.

Find J.L. on her website, twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

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CLASSIC YA – Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

“… if you’ve never read a Georgette Heyer book, please read this one!  You won’t regret it.”

Blurb:  “One of you shall have her, and my fortune into the bargain.  The offer of Miss Kitty Charing, with an attractive bonus, was an outrageous gesture from the ageing Mr Penicuik.  Marriage to any one of the attractive beaux seeking her hand would assure the lady’s future (and theirs).  Yet Kitty was in no hurry for wedlock.  She was determined to get to London town where anything might happen and very often did …”

Ms Heyer’s books are perhaps not considered classics by everyone, but they definitely should be IMO!  For anyone who loves romantic fiction, and especially novels set during the Regency period, she is the undisputed queen.  She more or less single-handedly invented the sub-genre of Regency romance novels and to me, her books are even better than those of Jane Austen, in whose footsteps she may have been trying to follow – blasphemy, I know!  But Ms Heyer’s novels are so much more exciting and fast-paced, despite the old-fashioned writing style and dialogue (she did a huge amount of research to get all her facts right, including how people spoke at that time, and even uses a lot of slang terms), and her stories are infused with a subtle and dry sense of humour that is just brilliant.  The characters fairly leap off the pages, irresistible and intriguing.  Her books have spawned innumerable imitations and I think most authors who write in this sub-genre today owe her a huge debt.

Ms Heyer is renowned for her fabulous heroes – alpha males, titled and wealthy, superior in every way, and often cynical and/or sardonic, and extremely intelligent.  They have perfect dress sense, are great in a fight, bruising riders and impeccable drivers of any type of carriage.  They never cheat at cards but always win anyway and they are crack shots.  In short, they are perfect, and that they are handsome as sin goes without saying.

These heroes often fall in love with very unconventional heroines; girls who are either overlooked because they are penniless or too “bookish”, or they are young and inexperienced so that they get into a lot of difficult situations from which they have to be rescued by the hero.

The heroine of Cotillion falls into this last category, and although she is quite well educated and not stupid, she has no experience of society and is very naive.  When it comes to the hero, however, it would seem Ms Heyer decided to have some fun when she wrote this novel, because she turns her own usual “recipe” on its head completely.  There is a man in the story – Jack Westruther – who fits her normal hero mould, but the more we learn about him, the more we realise that he is not a nice man.  In fact, he’s quite unbelievably selfish and not hero material at all.  The unlikely hero who emerges instead is his cousin, Freddy Standen, a young man who is neither particularly handsome nor clever – just ordinary (although he does have a title and is quite wealthy).

So Kitty’s miserly guardian has hatched a plan – in order to leave her well provided for, and at the same time bequeath his fortune to his favourite great-nephew (the villainous Jack), he tells his five great-nephews that whichever one of them Kitty chooses as her husband will inherit everything (knowing full well she would choose Jack).  Only things don’t quite go to plan, because Jack absolutely hates being coerced, so he doesn’t turn up.  He is perfectly happy to marry Kitty eventually and had been planning to do so, but not until he’s good and ready.  And although Kitty has been in love with him forever, she is understandably miffed when he’s the only one who doesn’t come to ask for her hand in marriage.

She decides to teach Jack a lesson, and enlists the help of the only one of the great-nephews she actually likes – Freddy.  She persuades him that they should pretend to be engaged and that he must take her to London for a month to stay with his parents.  Freddy is very reluctant, but he’s a nice guy and eventually agrees and they set off for the capital.  And that is when he begins to realise that he’s taken on more than he bargained for, as Kitty has absolutely no idea how to navigate the pitfalls of the ton, the fashionable world of the aristocrats in London.  It falls to poor Freddy to rescue her, again and again, and to his father’s great surprise, he does.  Freddy may not be very clever in an academic way, but he has impeccable taste and manners, and has been in polite society long enough to know all its dangers.  He can be depended upon in every situation and has a lot of common sense – he’s an extremely likeable character.

Kitty begins to compare his conduct to that of Jack, and Freddy, of course, wins hands down.  He has such a good heart and wants nothing more than to keep her happy because he knows she’s had a tough time living with her stern guardian who’s never allowed her to have any fun.  The two of them bring out the best in each other and seem well matched.

By the end of the book, the reader is totally rooting for Freddy and wishing for Jack to receive his come-uppance, and you can almost hear Ms Heyer laughing at the clever way she’s turned the tables on the alpha male.  But will he still get the girl and does he have to mend his ways in order to do so?  You’ll have to read it and find out.

For me, however, the absolute best thing about Cotillion is the humour.  In this book more than any other, Ms Heyer has succeeded in creating real comedy.  She excels at the sort of ridiculous conversations that have you laughing out loud.  (The first time I ever read this book was during a train journey and I’m convinced my fellow passengers thought I was completely insane as I had tears of laughter running down my face!)  The most comical character in the book is a cousin of Freddy’s called Lord Dolphinton (or Dolph for short), who is extremely thick and says the most absurd things.  Add to that Freddy’s horror of all things academic, several other cousins who have no patience with poor Dolph and just make him seem even more stupid, and the sardonic utterances of Freddy’s father (who is actually a properl Heyer alpha hero, only a nice one, and who has been under the misapprehension that Freddy is not blessed with a great intellect), and you have the perfect blend of characters for a farce.

For example, poor Freddy is horrified when Kitty wants to see the sights of London – “No dash it, Kit, you can’t think I’m going to totter all over London looking at a lot of buildings I don’t want to see!”  But she persuades him and they go to Westminster Abbey, where he bears up tolerably well until they reach the Henry the Seventh chapel.  The effigies there, “in particular the ghoulish countenance of Queen Elizabeth, proved to be his breaking-point.  He said that he had never seen such a set of rum touches in his life”, and tells her in the strongest terms that “another five minutes spent in the Chapel would make them both feel as blue as megrim.”  The rest of their tour of the capital is more of the same, with Freddy feeling cheated out of his money when he discovers the Elgin marbles are broken, and so on – I just love this!

Cotillion is the only book I have reread more than twice – in fact, it’s my “comfort read” and I must have read it at least ten times, if not more!  It is seriously worth it though, and I’m sure I’ll be returning to it again in the not too distant future.

I won’t go on, but take my word for it – if you’ve never read a Georgette Heyer book, please read this one!  You won’t regret it.


Pia Fenton writes contemporary romantic YA stories and her Northbrooke High series features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting.  The fourth one in the series – New England Dreams is out now!

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