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 , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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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Review: Freshman Witch by Ingrid Seymour and Katie French

About the book:

Of course magic is real. Everybody knows that.

Since it came out on the news that Supernaturals exist, I’ve heard they can do spells, shapeshift, live forever, you name it. Wonderful, right?

Whatever. In my world—where I’m homeless and spend my time avoiding rats and meth heads—magic sounds like major BS.

But when I’m accused of stealing and they’re about to arrest me, the item I took disappears from my hand as if by magic. WTF?

Just like that, the Supernatural Academy swoops in and recruits me. But I don’t belong there, and everyone else agrees, including Rowan Underwood, this rich and annoyingly handsome warlock who has it in for me. He’s investigating the theft of magical artifacts, and he thinks I’m involved.

Seriously? I just got here.

But I can’t worry about that, not while dead kings try to drain my essence or a spell from angry pixie minotaurs sends my hair follicles into overdrive until I look like Cousin It.

Yet, I can’t avoid Rowan, and while I learn enough magic to stay alive, I also need to keep myself from falling for a guy who’s clearly my worst decision ever.

Review by Katy Haye:

Katie French and Ingrid Seymour have created a fabulous, lively world and story in Freshman Witch. Supernaturals are out in the open, although not trusted – either by each other, or the human population.

Charlie made an excellent heroine, with plenty of problems stacked against her (and mysteries which I’m sure will be uncovered as we progress through the series). I was willing her on to succeed against all the odds.

And Rowan was lovely. The spoiled rich boy trope was twisted to something real and heart-breaking.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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

Review: The Palace of Lost Memories by C J Archer


About the book:

The king’s magnificent palace was built in a matter of weeks. No one saw the builders, no villagers are allowed beyond the gilded gate, and only one servant has ever left. The haunted look in her eyes as she was recaptured by the palace guards is something Josie, daughter of the village doctor, has never forgotten.

For Josie, the palace is a mystery that grows more intriguing after she meets the captain of the guards, a man known only as Hammer, as mysterious and captivating as the palace itself. Whispers of magic fuel Josie’s desire to uncover the truth, but an ordinary girl like her can only dream of ever being invited inside.

When the king decides to take a wife from among the eligible daughters of the noble families, the palace gates are finally thrown open and the kingdom’s elite pour in. In a court where old rivalries and new jealousies collide, the king’s favorite is poisoned and the doctor is summoned. As her father’s assistant, Josie finally sees inside the lavish walls, but she soon learns the palace won’t surrender its secrets easily, for not a single resident, from the lowest servant to the king himself, has a memory from before the palace existed.

In the search for the truth, Josie is drawn deeper into danger, and the answers she seeks might shake the very foundations of the kingdom.

Review by Katy Haye:

C J Archer has created a glorious, immersive fantasy world for the After the Rift series. The Palace of Lost Memories was a fascinating fantasy mystery and a great start to the series. I thoroughly enjoyed unravelling the mystery with Josie and Hammer, although they only begin to scrape the surface of the bigger mystery in this, first, book.

Josie was an excellent main character: complex, strong and capable yet vulnerable and realistically nuanced. Hammer was a delight who often made me smile along with Josie (inadvertently on his part), and I loved the subtlety of the romance thread, while the secondary characters were also very well delineated and memorable.

C J Archer is definitely an author to look out for because this was a delightful and fresh fantasy story.

Love fantasy? Try Katy Haye’s Princess Witch series. First in series is Dragon Thief. Princess Jurelle wants revenge on her vicious father, but her actions unleash magical powers she has no idea she possesses – and which place her in terrible danger.

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

Review: This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

About the book:

Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens all played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

Instead, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge who wants to finally unravel the truth about what actually happened that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free? Or will their lies destroy them all?

Review by Katy Haye:

Oh my. I picked this up on a recommendation and because it outright said it was perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and I love Karen McManus’s stories.

Well, for maybe as much as the first half of This Lie Will Kill You I thought it was a solid read, but not remarkable; a bit of a wannabe. But from the halfway point I was utterly hooked. The writing is so vivid and intense I was truly inside the characters’ heads (and that’s a mixed blessing in this story, to be honest).

I guessed a twist I wasn’t even looking for a moment before the characters got there and it was so remarkable I exclaimed aloud (it’s okay, I was on my own; no witnesses). And the last quarter or so was read late at night with my eyes closing in the bookworm’s mentality of “I promise I’ll finish at the end of this chapter … okay maybe one more…”

I absolutely loved This Lie Will Kill You. It’s about love and friendship, and infatuation and control, and truth and lies, and revenge and forgiveness. The plotting is perfect and the writing flawless.

Stupendous. Read it and lose out on sleep!

Katy Haye is the author of the Clockwork War series, a YA steampunk adventure featuring Clara, a mechanical genius who just wants to keep her family safe, and young lord Gordy who’s hiding a remarkable secret.

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