Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-11T232211.124
Series:
Sweet Black Waves #2 (See my review of #1 here!)
Release Date: August 27th 2019
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…

Review

Copy of book cover (87)Wild Savage Stars is the eagerly awaited second instalment in the Sweet Black Waves trilogy, a beautiful tale of magic and romance inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I completely fell in love with the first book in the series and I was incredibly excited to find out what was in store for Branwen in book two. I absolutely devoured this book and book three is definitely one of my most anticipated releases.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to Princess Eseult as she embarks upon a journey across the sea, where Eseult will be married to the King of what was once an enemy kingdom. Tensions are fraught and the two best friends have difficult relationship following the Essy’s betrayal. As political tensions rise in their new homeland, Branwen embarks on a dark quest to understand her magic and save the ones she loves.

I honestly just adore everything about this series. In this instalment we are treated to a new land, and I loved the vivid descriptions of the castle and the land. The magic system is fascinating and I really enjoyed seeing Branwen learn more about her powers and carry out magic that was beyond her wildest imaginings. There is definitely more political intrigue in this instalment and I found myself fascinated watching Branwen and Essy attempt to manoeuvre court life.

For me the thing that really makes this book are the characters. Branwen is without a doubt one of my all time favourite characters. She’s strong willed, stubborn and not afraid to make hard decisions. She sometimes makes the wrong choice, but she sees it through. I also really like Ruan and Tristan, the cousins have a fascinating relationship and I loved that Perez gave us the chance to learn more of their backstory. Essy is probably my least favourite, I sometimes find her a bit on the childish side, but she is still a vivid and well fleshed out character.

The story has so many twists that I just didn’t see coming, moments where I just could not stop reading because I just had to know what was coming next. It’s an addictive, beautifully written tale and definitely a new favourite series of mine.
5 stars

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-10T202032.508
Series:
Chimera #1
Release Date: May 21st 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. 
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

Review

Copy of book cover (27)This is the sort of book that when I first read the synopsis sounded really intriguing and I thought it would be a fun and enjoyable read. What I didn’t expect was how much I would completely adore this book and how desperate I am to find out what’s in store next for Romy.

The story follows Romy, a young woman who has fought hard to become the favoured courtesan of the infamous Shadow Lord. Despite their closeness when her brother Neri is discovered stealing with the aid of magic, Romy is cast out and left to survive in the beggar’s ring. Using her knowledge of politics and her will to survive, Romy works to protect Neri and keep them both alive. In trying to keep her own magic hidden she discovers a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord, but will thwarting the plan risk their lives?

I loved everything about this book. I fell completely under the spell of this Renaissance inspired world. I thought the world building was excellent and really enjoyed getting to know the magic system. Magic is of course forbidden in this world and I loved seeing the characters attempt to understand and hone their gifts in secret.

The plot was well paced and had quite a few twists – a few I saw coming but a couple were also a complete surprise. I was really gripped by the sense of adventure, the heist like nature of the story and the camaraderie between the characters. I loved Romy and her cheeky brother Neri. They’re great characters and I cannot wait to see what book two has in store for them.

One of the reasons this book really stood out for me is the romance aspect. There is a little bit of romance but the focus is very much on the sibling relationship and that was a breath of fresh air. It was nice to focus much more on Neri and Romy attempting to understand and work together, rather than a swoony romance.

An Illusion of Thieves is a brilliant beginning to what I’m sure is going to be an engrossing series. If you love stories with vivid characters, tons of action and political intrigue, then this is definitely one to pick up soon!
5 stars

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-02T123322.057
Series:
Sweet Black Waves #1
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Review

Copy of book cover (85)Sweet Black Waves is the first in an all new fantasy series inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I must admit that I am not all that familiar with the famous tale. I know it’s a romance but little else, so when I went into Sweet Black Waves I wasn’t sure what the story would entail. I must admit I got completely hooked on the story of Branwen and Tristan and I am absolutely dying to read the next book in the series.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to the Queen and last survivor of her family after they were killed by raiders. She one day finds a man on the beach and rescues him, and discovers he is one of the enemy. As the two spend time together in secret, feelings start to bloom between them, but could the world ever accept a couple from the two opposing nations? As Branwen begins to fight for peace, she discovers she has magic in her blood and must to everything she can to keep it secret.

This book was honestly just so addictive. I’m not normally someone who loves romance stories but I completely fell in love with Branwen and Tristan. The characters were brilliantly written. Branwen is so complex, dealing with the loss of her family, the love of her country and her desires for peace. Tristan is likewise a fascinating character and I loved watching the two characters grow and develop as the story went on.

Kristina Perez has created a really fascinating world, and one that is steeped in history and culture. The world building was just perfect and I found it so easy just to sink into this world of magic and enemy kingdoms. Perez has a gorgeous writing style and I found myself getting so absorbed in the story that I ended up staying up way later than I planned because I just had to know what was going on next. Sweet Black Waves is a phenomenal start to this bright and vivid series and I’m definitely planning to dive straight into Wild Savage Stars.
4 stars

Blog Tour: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank

Blog Tour: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank

Release Date: October 31st 2019
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

Review

Copy of book cover (78)This debut novel completely swept me up in it’s beautiful story of family and loss. It’s stunningly written and I could not put this book down.

The story follows Stella, a young widow dealing with the death of her fiancee. She goes to stay with her sister who is struggling with being pregnant. Madeline stays in a remote countryside mansion, known as Greyswick and as Stella spends more time there strange things begin to happen and she begins to uncover the dark history of Greyswick.

I honestly completely fell in love with this book. It was everything you could want from a Halloween/Autumn read. It has this dark, imposing setting that really came to life in Frank’s writing. It was full to the brim with atmosphere and I was constantly trying to squeeze in another chapters because I was so desperate to know more.

One of the things I loved most about this story was the characters. Stella and Annie are brilliantly fleshed out, and though the two are completely different I loved seeing them come together in an attempt to uncover the mysteries of the house. The story is well paced, with the latter half of the book having quite a few surprise reveals that I definitely didn’t see coming.

The Lost Ones is definitely a gripping read, with plenty of eerie, supernatural moments to send a shiver up your spine. It put me in mind of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions, so if you’re a fan of Gothic historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural, this will be right up your street.
4 stars
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Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-20T135404.289
Release Date:
October 4th 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 419
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read next winter.

Review

As we get to the last few months of the year I find myself reaching more and more for dark and chilling reads that will have me on the edge of my seat. I had pretty high expectations going into this one, I had heard lots of brilliant buzz and hype around it, and I’m so happy to say it delivered. Chilling, mysterious and featuring a brilliant setting.

The story is set in a remote, isolated house on an island off the Devon coast. I completely fell in love with this setting, it was the perfect place to make attempts to contact the dead, and it definitely helped to heighten the tension as we try to figure out the secrets surrounding the guests. I really liked the characters too, we are given two POVs in this story and I really enjoyed both Donovan and Kate’s perspectives as they tried to uncover the mysteries in Blackwater Abbey.

The story is full of plot twists and plenty of surprise moments to keep you hooked. I really enjoyed Ryan’s writing style, and felt the pacing was just perfect to give you that chill up your spine. I also really enjoyed the Wartime setting of this book, it’s not something I read often and loved that extra layer it brought to the story. If you’re looking for something eerie and dark with a real claustrophobic feel, this should definitely be on your wish list.  A House of Ghosts is perfect Halloween reading, and I can’t wait to try more from this author.
4 stars

William Ryan Blogtour 19 Sept (1)

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-07T205208.620
Release Date:
October 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 560
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

Review

Copy of book cover (63)To say that Angel Mage was one of my most anticipated books of the year is probably an understatement. Garth Nix has been one of my favourite authors since I was a child, and I absolutely credit him with being the reason I love fantasy books so much. So many of his books – Shade’s Children, Sabriel, A Confusion of Princes –  are some of my all time favourites so going into Angel Mage I had the highest of expectations. The story captivated me from the very first page, and I am already considering when I can make time to reread this stunning book.

Like all of Garth Nix’s books, the world building is excellently plotted, allowing you to completely fall into this story of angels and magic.  The magic system felt really unique, I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before and it was a breath of fresh air. The story is quite a slow burn, it’s a big tome and it really gives you the chance to get to know the world and the brilliantly fleshed out characters. Nix has stated that this is a standalone at this stage, but I would honestly love to read more from this world and the characters.

Angel Mage has plenty of action scenes to keep you hooked in and gorgeous writing that I honestly just could not get enough of. Each sentence seems to leap off the page with vivid descriptions of characters and their setting. It features a brilliant cast of characters, each who brings a really interesting perspective to the table. I really liked Simeon and Henri the most, but honestly I thought all the characters were brilliant.

If you love epic fantasy stories with Three Musketeers vibes, you definitely need to pick up Angel Mage now. I for one am now going to start rereading Garth Nix’s back catalogue while I wait for his next book!
5 stars
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Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-29T221550.008Series: S.T.A.G.S #1
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 303
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Review

Copy of book cover (73)This was such a fun and enjoyable read. I read it over the course of two days, and the mystery kept me wanting more the whole way through. S.T.A.G.S is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and takes a common theme – being an outsider – and turns it into a whole new ballgame.

I really loved the characters in this book. Greer’s Dad is a nature film maker, so the two watch a lot of movies, and I really liked the way she continually referenced films in order to explain her point. I also really liked Nel and Shafeen, Greer’s only real companions. I also found it really interesting the way the Medievals are like carbon copies of each other, M.A. Bennett did a fantastic job of bringing out everyone’s high school nightmare with this group.

The setting for S.T.A.G.S is a really beautiful one, and one that definitely came alive in the story. It certainly is huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ village, with lots of mountains and lakes. The setting in the heart of the Lake District really is a fantastic backdrop for this story.

S.T.A.G.S is certainly a twisty and turn-y thriller. As Greer and her friends attempt to figure out what on earth is going on, there are several things you’ll totally see coming, but also more than a few that you’ll be completely a taken back by (I know I was). I love a story that can keep me guessing, and this exciting YA mystery, definitely ticks that box. S.T.A.G.S would also make one hell of a movie/television series, so I’m definitely going to be keeping my fingers crossed for that. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining mystery, S.T.A.G.S is a must read for sure.
4 stars