Review: Awaken by Skye Malone

About the book:

Dive into an underwater world of ancient secrets, dark magic, and love that will risk it all…

Running away from home was never Chloe Kowalski’s plan. Neither was ending up the target of killers, or having her body change in unusual ways. She only wanted a vacation, someplace far from her crazy parents and their irrational fear of water. She only wanted to do something normal for once, and maybe get to know her best friend’s hot stepbrother a bit better at the same time.

But the first day she goes out on the ocean, strange things start to happen. Dangerous things that should be impossible. Things to which ‘normal’ doesn’t even begin to apply.

Now madmen are hunting her. A mysterious guy with glowing blue eyes is following her. And her best friend’s stepbrother seems to be hiding secrets all his own.

It was supposed to be a vacation. It’s turning out to be a whole lot more.

Review by Katy Haye:

I liked Awaken, but I didn’t love it. The characters were vivid and enjoyable, and the premise was fun, if not providing anything new, but the plotting wasn’t as assured as I would have liked. There were a couple of frustrating moments where Chloe behaved in strange ways. She was desperate to get back to the ocean – but then stayed in the house and went to the bookshop rather than visiting the beach her soul was apparently crying out for.

I did, however, love the twist with Noah and Maxim three quarters of the way through. They were a great addition to the story, and the family dynamics were excellent in Chloe’s “second” family.

Overall, Awaken was okay, but I didn’t fall in love with it the way I always want to. It’s not a priority to move on with the series.

Posted in fantasy, fiction, magic, mythology, review, Romance, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , ,

Review: Supernatural Reform School by Sullivan Gray and E C Farrell

About the book:

I went from one of the most powerful supes in the world…

…to the bottom of my class at Supernatural Reform School.

The academy is for the rejects: shifters who can’t shift, witches who can’t spell, and psychs like me, who are powerless. All I want is to get my powers back online.

Not to make friends.

Definitely not to fall for my dragon shifter instructor.

But I’m beginning to think that losing my powers was no accident. Someone is stealing magic.

As I dig deeper into this conspiracy with my fellow reform-schoolers, we uncover a lot more than we bargained for. And the tentative human/supernatural relationships hang in the balance.

We may find out the truth, how can we do anything to stop it when we don’t have our powers?

Review by Katy Haye:

I love, love, loved this. Cade (very glad she had a shortening because I wasn’t in the least sure where to put the emphasis in the name Arcadiana) was the best heroine I’ve read in a long time. I guess the usual paranormal story is for a “normal” girl to suddenly discover she has otherworldly powers. Cade was the opposite: a powerful supe, she abruptly loses her powers and has to deal with life where she’s nothing special. She was angry, determined, scared, spiky, damaged, and just so real. I was totally rooting for her throughout the story, even when she was at her angry worst pushing everyone away.

The academy setting made for some great relationships. There were goodies and baddies, without the authors falling into the tired trope of pretty girls who don’t like the heroine = spoilt, stupid and nasty.

And Sebastian. Oh, Bash… A fabulous love interest. I’m a bit biased by reading his prequel that you get by joining Sullivan Gray’s mailing list, where you get to find out more about him, but I am rooting for him to get his powers back just as much as I am for Cade to do so.

There were some excellent twists and turns, and a big arc that will need a few more books to resolve. I can’t wait, because I cannot get enough of these characters.

Highly recommended!


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Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


About the book:

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Review by Katy Haye:

I’m in two minds. There was so much to love about Children of Blood and Bone. The world-building and the premise of oppression and freedom was a fabulous foundation for the story, and the writing was magnificent, rich and glorious. The characters were utterly fabulous: complex and conflicted, I ached for them. They faced truly thorny problems and struggled with how to deal with them.

I did think the tension sagged in the final quarter of the book, which is a shame when you’re in the finale and everything should be crashing together. And then I’ll freely admit I didn’t even understand the ending. I don’t want to give a spoiler, but I assume it was supposed to be a massive twist to drive readers into the next in the series, but I didn’t find it particularly startling and I couldn’t understand why Zelie was so shocked and horrified. Sorry to report, it irritated me enough that I don’t think I’ll bother with the next, which is a great shame because it was otherwise a fabulous read.

Your experience may vary, and I kind of hope it does!

Can’t get enough of fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series. It’s complete and ready for you to binge-read. Start Relle’s story with Dragon Thief. If you like magic, danger, deadly royals and a heroine who won’t accept her fate tamely, Dragon Thief is the book for you!

Cover graphic for Dragon Thief by Katy Haye.

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Review: Guardian Witch by Valia Lind

About the book:

Welcome to Hawthorne.
A town. A home. A sanctuary.
It’s a land of magic, where traditions run deep. Governed by an ancient coven, it’s a place where supernaturals and humans can live in peace.
Until now.

Born and raised in Hawthorne, Harper has always known her place. As the middle child, she is skilled in earth magic and intuition. But even with all of her gifts, she can’t see the future. So when she makes a choice to enter the forbidden woods, she stumbles upon a hurt wolf pup and his older brother.

Connor has finally returned to Hawthorne, ready to take his place as the Alpha. But then a chance encounter sends his whole world spinning.

The witches and the wolves are not friends. They are nothing more than business partners. They live side by side, but never intertwining.

But when a power older than time itself rises, it will take both sides fighting together to defeat the evil, or lose their way of life forever.

Harper and Connor are already breaking all the rules and now they will have to decide for themselves, is their love worth the greatest risk or will they lose it all?

Review by Katy Haye:

Guardian Witch was an excellent find: short, entertaining and intense; perfect to curl up with for an evening.

I loved the sister dynamics between Harper and Brianna, they were so apt and full of sass.

The romance between Harper and Connor was glorious – it had that same kind of OTT intensity which was what I loved about Twilight, that teenaged “I’ll die without him!”. Ahh.

Overall, Guardian Witch is a great start to the series. I can’t wait to read more from Valia Lind.

Posted in families, fantasy, fiction, magic, paranormal, review, Romance, supernatural, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

About the Book:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Review by Katy Haye:

Truly Devious hits a lot of the tropes for a classic murder mystery: a rich man, an isolated house, a missing child, an unsolved mystery.

I loved the double-mystery element: on top of the cold case our heroine is determined to solve, I was busy looking out for the event that would mark the return of the old killer (or is it an entirely new killer?).

Our would-be sleuth Stevie is a fabulous character, gloriously self-aware and self-deprecating with a delightful, dry wit. The writing overall is very strong and I was carried effortlessly into Stevie’s world while the pages turned themselves.

You might have noticed, however, that I haven’t given Truly Devious a star rating, and that’s because I truly can’t decide how I feel about it. The saying goes that the start and end of your books are the most important – the start draws in a reader, while the ending decides whether the reader will want more from you.

I was drawn in easily enough, but I’m not sure I want any more. I was aware this is the first book in a trilogy and there are more to come, but it just felt utterly unfinished, to the extent that I closed the book feeling cheated. We don’t find out who committed the old crime, nor the new one. It ends on a twist (which I guess might answer one of those questions – or might just be a red herring), but the twist wasn’t powerful enough to constitute a cliff-hanger to drive me straight on to the next in the trilogy. It felt as though the overall story had just been hacked into three volumes because it would be too long, otherwise.

I finished reading a bit irritated and not particularly bothered, which I’m guessing isn’t the mood Maureen Johnson wanted to leave her readers in.

There’s much to love, if murder mysteries are your thing. I think I’m going to take this as my cue to move back to the fantasy books that are my go-to genre.

Posted in contemporary, crime, families, fiction, review, Romance, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Review: Point of Impact by Kyla Stone

About the book:

Surviving the blast is only the beginning…
Dakota Sloane, a tough-as-nails former foster kid, has spent her life running from the past. Logan Garcia, a man haunted by secrets, has only one goal: to drink himself into oblivion.

They’re two strangers in a bar–until the news reports nuclear bombs in New York City and D.C. Fearing Miami may be next, Dakota’s first thought is to grab her little sister–still trapped in the system–and get the hell out of Dodge.

Then the world explodes. As buildings collapse and fires rage, utter chaos erupts. Trapped in the burning city, Logan and Dakota have less than ten minutes to seek shelter before the lethal cloud of fallout descends.

But Dakota’s sister is still out there. To rescue her, Dakota will need Logan’s help, but can she trust him? And how far is she willing to go to save the only family she has left?

Review by Katy Haye:

Oh my word, this was utterly absorbing. It’s very convincing and well-researched (as a result, I’d recommend you probably don’t read it if you’re of a nervous disposition – I found myself trying to think of “safe” places I could reach as the action unfolded).

Riley made an excellent heroine (although there are several points of view, it’s clearly her story). She’s smart and strong, but also flawed. There were also intriguing hints at her backstory which will clearly play a bigger part as the series develops.

The other characters were well-developed and complex and the interplay between them all was gripping. I liked how the big and little stories added different dimensions to the overall narrative, as well as providing realism.

The ending was slightly disappointing. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger, but it wasn’t much of anything, really. I knew this was a first in the series, but I was expecting the narrative to reach a particular place to end the first book, or to face a sudden twist or a decision and it didn’t, which left it feeling somewhat unfinished.

But overall it’s very well worth reading – an excellent story strongly told. I want to move on to the next to find out what happens and who’s behind it all.

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Review: Lily’s Just Fine by Gill Stewart


It’s time for a new-release klaxon because Piranha Gill Stewart’s new book is out today!

About the book:

Sail away this summer with the unexpected romance of Scotland’s most determined teenager…

Lily couldn’t have planned life better herself. She lives in the best house in town and she’s dating the most popular boy in school. Everything else she can fix. Mum’s apathy? On it! The stuffy gala committee? Watch this space!

Tom has enough on his plate without trying to drag Newton St Cuthbert into the 21st Century. His sister is sick and there’s nothing anyone can do. Not doctors, not his parents, and certainly not Lily Hildebrand.

Review by Katy Haye:

Lily is more than just fine, she’s an absolute delight! Lily was such a strong, determined, flawed, confused and get-in-her-own way teenager I felt my own teen years flooding back. Full of energy and enthusiasm, all Lily needs is for everyone to do what she knows ought to be done, in the way she knows would be best. Easy.

She’s funny and adorable and exasperating, but then the story bloomed with real emotional depth. While struggling with finishing school and (possibly) starting a relationship, Lily also has to face the fact that her mother is truly unwell, and no amount of determined cheerfulness will make her better.

It’s not heavy-handed, but it’s very powerful writing. I really felt for Lily, trying to do the right thing with no idea what the right thing should be.

And the relationship between Tom and Lily was beautifully described. I find relationships in a lot of YA novels are very glib and not especially realistic (okay, so I read fantasy mostly, and the point of fantasy is not “realistic”, but even so…). This romance was lovely, with all the awkward, insecure, spiky and pissed-off bits left in.

The sense of place was glorious, I was right there on the Scottish coast with Lily and Tom, bobbing on the sea alongside them. And the sense of community was fabulous with some glorious secondary characters bringing the town to life.

This is an absolute peach of a book. Grab your copy now!

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