Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

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Series:
Sea Witch #1
Release Date: July 21st 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was given this book for Christmas.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

Review

36502054 (1)Sea Witch is the first in a new fantasy series which reimagines the story of The Little Mermaid – but from the perspective of the sea witch. This first instalment is a dark and exciting story, and one that will definitely leave you hungry for more.

Sea Witch follows Evie, the daughter of a Fisherman and her best friend Prince Nik. The two are still reeling from the drowning of their friend Anna several years previously, so when Evie discovers a young woman who looks exactly like Anna, she immediately agrees to help her – but who is this mysterious girl and why does she look so much like the friend that drowned all those years ago?

This story was completely different to what I was expecting. It’s a clever tale that brings a really fresh perspective to a story that has been reimagined so many times before. It’s got plenty of twists and turns and the story is well paced – really allowing you to get to know the characters and the world.

I really enjoyed the setting in this story, the seaside Kingdom, beautiful scenery and twisting waves were all really brought to life in the story. I liked the characters too – they were well fleshed out and I thought Evie made an excellent protagonist. There were some plot points that I felt were a little predictable but I still enjoyed the overall execution of the story. The story jumps in time with each chapter containing a scene relating to the past and the friendship between Anna, Evie and Nik. I really liked this as it gave the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters and see how Evie and Nik cope with the loss of their friend.

The one negative I have about this book is the romance aspect. There are several romances taking place throughout the course of the story and I did feel that there wasn’t all that much to them. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone so I won’t name characters but the romances felt a bit forced, meaning I had less of an interest in the characters getting together. Despite this I still enjoyed the overall conclusion, and thought the ending was particularly well done.

Sea Witch is a really dark and fascinating tale, and if you’re a fan of retellings, you’re definitely going to want to try this one. There’s a second book coming in August, so you won’t have too long to wait to find out what’s in store next.
4 stars

Blog Tour: Emily Eternal – M. G. Wheaton

Blog Tour: Emily Eternal – M. G. Wheaton

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Release Date:
23rd April 2019
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.

She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-24T180649.748This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s a fresh take on the artificial intelligence tale and I absolutely loved it.

The story follows protagonist Emily who is an artificial consciousness, she’s incredibly intelligent and built to help human beings cope with trauma. As the sun starts to die and humanity’s days are numbered, Emily discovers something that could solve the world’s problems. In the midst of her discovery the lab is attacked and Emily, along with Jason and Mayra have to flee.

This story is fast paced, exciting and incredibly thought provoking. It’s not a long book and I raced through it, eager to know more and spend time with these incredibly complex and well developed characters. The story is very much a coming of age tale and it was fascinating seeing Emily make mistakes, be flawed and learn what it means to be human. Emily is a wonderful protagonist – she’s so smart but she’s also funny and combined with some fascinating side characters, it makes for a wonderful cast for this tale.

The plot is well developed and I really enjoyed Wheaton’s writing style. It was so easy to just sink back into the story when I unfortunately had to put it down. There are plenty of moments in this story that had me on the edge of my seat and I was rooting for the characters the entire time. It’s an exciting story, but it’s definitely also one that gives you food for thought – if you’re a science fiction fan you absolutely have to pick this one up.
4 stars
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Book Review: Book of Fire – Michelle Kenney

Book Review: Book of Fire – Michelle Kenney

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Series:
Book of Fire #1
Release Date: August 27th 2017
Publisher: HQ Digital
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon
Source: I received an E-ARC of this via Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Life outside the domes is not possible. At least that’s what Insiders are told.

Twins Eli and Talia shouldn’t exist. They’re Outsiders.

Their home is a secret. Their lives are a secret. Arafel is a secret.

An unexpected forest raid forces Talia into a desperate mission to rescue her family while protecting the sacred Book of Arafel from those who would use it as a weapon. As Talia and her life long friend Max enter the dome, she makes some unexpected discoveries, and allies, in the form of rugged Insider August, that will change the course of her life forever.

She’ll stop at nothing to save her family but will she sacrifice her heart in the process?

The Fire Sermon meets Gladiator in this brilliant YA debut.

 

Review

book cover - 2019-04-17T214902.332This is a vivid and wonderfully written dystopian fantasy. The one thing that I really adored about Book of Fire is the imaginative setting and exciting plot. After a nuclear war, only those who live inside the dome are supposed to exist, but Talia and her family exist on the outside, and they thrive in the natural environment. When part of her family are captured, Thalia has to venture into the dome to save the ones she love. But all is not as it seems inside the domes, and she has some tough choices to make in order to survive and find her way out. I really loved the idea for this book. On one side the outsiders, those living in harmony with nature, living in treehouses and working with the land. On the other those that used technology to live an advanced and clinical life.

Book of Fire is a really interesting read, and it puts forth some really interesting questions about the way we live and the advancements of technology – just because we can doesn’t mean we should. The plot was well paced, with plenty of mystery and action to keep the reader intrigued. There were a few times when I just couldn’t put the book down, so desperate was I to know what was coming next. The world building is also superb, laying down the foundations and ideas well, without dumping all the information on the reader.

The characters in Book of Fire were also fantastically written. Thalia who will stop at nothing to get her family back, her wise caring grandfather and my personal favourite is definitely the mysterious August, he’s part of the elite inside the dome but he isn’t all that he seems. I thought the characters felt very human, the make mistakes and stupid decisions, they aren’t perfect all rounded people. These excellent characters are really what made the book for me and I was rooting for them almost from the get go. Book of Fire is a fantastic read and I really can’t wait to find out what’s next in store.
4 stars

Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

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Release Date:
March 28th 2019
Publisher: Black and White
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A beautifully written, sweeping story of survival, community and love…

It it April 1939, and, in Berlin and Vienna, Esther and Kitty face a brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai… They’ve heard it whispered that Shanghai might offer refuge. And so, on a crowded ocean liner, these women encounter each other for the first time.

Kitty has been lured to the other side of the world with promises of luxury, love and marriage. But when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand, she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her daughter shelter in a house of widows until Aaron, a hot-headed former lover, brings fresh hope of survival.

Then, as the Japanese army enters the fray and violence mounts, the women are thrown together in Shanghai’s most desperate times. Together they must fight a future for the lives that will follow theirs.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-09T224206.829I absolutely adored Juliet Conlin’s The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days so I was incredibly excited to pick up her newest release, The Lives Before Us. Set in 1939 the story follows three characters – Esther, Kitty and Yì as they attempt to escape from the violence and death that is spreading across the world at this dark moment in history. It is a powerful and emotional story that I found difficult to put down.

This is definitely the kind of story that sticks with you long after you’re finished reading. The story is told from the differing perspectives of the three characters who are each dealing with their own issues and struggles. They experience the horrors and hardships of a world at war but the story also focuses very much on the ideas of friendship and family at a time when so many are being persecuted.

I really liked all three characters – Kitty who is going to meet a fiance whom she discovers is already married, Yì is a young Chinese boy who has been badly treated all his life and Esther who is trying to escape persecution and protect her daughter. Each character brought a really unique perspective and they blended well to create a compelling tale.

I really enjoyed Conlin’s writing style in her previous novel and if possible I loved it even more in this book. It was so easy to sink into the book and be swept along in the story of these characters. The book was well paced and definitely gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge about life during that time period. I also really liked the setting for this story – Shanghai – Conlin’s writing really brought it to life and it was fascinating reading about a place I know so little about.

The Lives Before Us is a gorgeously written, touching tale that fans of historical fiction will absolutely adore. If you’ve read The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner, you’re definitely going to love this too.
4 stars
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Blog Tour: Star Crossed – Minnie Darke

Blog Tour: Star Crossed – Minnie Darke

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Release Date:
March 5th 2019
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 387
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Why rely on fate when you can rewrite the stars?

When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, aspiring journalist and sceptic) bumps into her old friend Nick Jordan (Aquarius, struggling actor and true believer) it could be by change.Or perhaps it’s written in the stars.

Justine works at the Alexandria Park Star – and Nick, she now learns, relies on the magazine’s astrology column to guide him in life.

Looking for a way to get Nick’s attention, Justine has the idea of making a few small alterations to ‘Aquarius’ before it goes to print.

It’s only a horoscope, after all. What harm could changing it do?

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T105924.120Star Crossed follows the story of two childhood friends – Justine and Nick. Whilst working working at the Alexandria Park Star Justine finds out that Nick is using an astrology column to help make decisions in life, hoping to reconnect with him she makes some changes to the column before it goes to print causing a chain reaction of events.

Star Crossed is such a sweet and fun story! I completely found myself falling in love with these characters. This book was so easy to fall into and I was completely swept up in seeing if Justine and Nick would end up together. I’m a massive fan of the ‘childhood friends reconnecting’ trope and it is done so well in this book. This is the kind of trope you see a lot in books but it felt like a fresh take and really got me rooting for these two. Both characters were well developed and I loved this unique idea of a love story centred around horoscopes.

Star Crossed is set in Australia and I thought it was the perfect setting for this brilliantly written story. There are plenty of moments that had me laughing and I loved seeing not only how Nick and Justine’s story developed but also the effect that changing the horoscope has on other people too. It’s an incredibly charming tale and it weaved the themes of fate and love incredibly well. If you’re a fan of movies like Love Actually this is definitely going to be one for you.

The chapters also follow the star signs and I really liked the subtle ways that this was incorporated into the story. It made it totally different to any romance story I’ve read before and I loved the overall structure of the book. I have also completely adore the beautiful cover that fits so well with the story.

Star Crossed is cleverly written and I really liked Darke’s writing style, the story easily flowed and it was the perfect easy read over an afternoon. This is definitely the kind of sweet and enjoyable story you want for a spring weekend or a summer holiday. If you’re looking for a heartwarming tale with characters that will melt your heart, Star Crossed should definitely be your next read.
4 stars

Book Review: The Near Witch – V. E. Schwab

Book Review: The Near Witch – V. E. Schwab

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Release Date:
March 12th 2019
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 354
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-24T180513.572This is the rerelease of Victoria Schwab’s debut novel featuring an all new short story titled The Ash Born Boy. The story is a dark and atmospheric tale that follows Lexi a young girl living in the small town of Near. The town is extremely isolated so when a stranger comes to visit the villagers become very unsettled. Soon after children begin disappearing from their beds and the mysterious stranger is instantly blamed for it. Lexi believes the stranger is innocent, but will she be able to prove it?

This was such a gripping read! I have fast become a fan of V. E. Schwab and I was so looking forward to reading her debut novel. Though it has been reprinted it has not been edited or changed since the original publication and it was fascinating to see how her writing has grown from this book to Vengeful and City of Ghosts.

The Near Witch is a story full of magic, mystery and danger. It kept me reading long after I’d planned to put the book down and I completely fell in love with Lexi and her sister Wren. She’s determined to do what she thinks is right (regardless of what her uncle thinks), she stands up for herself and she’ll do anything to protect her sister. The story unfolds beautifully and the plot is well written with an air of Neil Gaiman around it.

The creepy atmospheric setting is really brought to life in Schwab’s elegant writing and I could almost feel the icy wind of on the moor. While I really enjoyed this book it didn’t grab me as much as some of the authors other work but it was still a hugely fascinating read. The additionally short story too was a brilliant look at the back story of the visiting stranger. If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you like magical tales full of atmosphere, I’d highly recommend this one!
4 stars

Book Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

Book Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

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Series:
Prisoner of Ice and Snow #1
Release Date: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-28T230803.617This is a beautifully written story about the friendship between two sisters. It’s an engaging, enjoyable story, and one I think a lot of people will really love. The plot is full of twists and turns and has that perfect blend of action and plot that fantasy fans will just love.

The main character Valor is a brave, determined young lady, and she’ll do anything to help her sister – even commit a crime. I admired her strength and courage, she’s a wonderful leading lady and I think she would be a fantastic role model for younger children reading A Prisoner of Ice and Snow. There are a few smaller characters that I would like to get to know as well as Valor, but perhaps that will come along later in the series.

The prison that Valor and her sister end up in is certainly a horrible one, and they depictions of the different settings – most notably the prison – is certainly vivid and well laid out. At only two hundred and eighty eight pages the book is quite a quick read, but there is plenty to keep you guessing and wanting more. If you’re looking for a fun enjoyable MG fantasy, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is definitely a book to pick up. I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for the series!
4 stars