The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

“True power isn’t granted. True power can’t be taken away.” – The Cruel Prince, Holly Black

Great plot twists, interesting character conflicts/motivations, and strong female character. There’s a lot going on in this world of faeries, political intrigue, and family dramas. The story centers around Jude, a human girl taken to live among the faery royals. All Jude wanted was to prove herself, fit in and become a well-respected member of that society – however, in her quest to prove herself she soon gets embroiled in unraveling a huge scandal. For me, the romance aspect of this novel didn’t feel compelling, whilst it was explained in the plot why she was bullied but I just don’t get how you could still fall in love with someone that bullies you. That aspect aside, it is a fast-paced story with an intricately woven plot. It also explores Jude’s journey in navigating a world that discriminates mortals and one filled with faery trickery and politics. It explores themes of displacement, discrimination, identity, and choices. Recommended for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses series and The Winner’s Curse series, and readers that enjoys the underdog trope.

– NJ

Book blurb:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

“You have more power than you know, Samantha. You just have to be brave enough to realize it.” – How to Hang a Witch, Adriana Mather

Spooky, engaging and intense. I love how the story juxtaposed the Salem witch trials to modern day bullying and vilification. The author herself is a descendant of Witch prosecutor Cotton Mather which also added extra dimension to the story. This story is filled with witchcraft, ghost and strong underlying moral themes of kindness and compassion. Although I felt the ending was somewhat rushed and the love story was moderately interesting, it is the snippets of clues about the witch trial mystery and history that kept me reading. It was an interesting and fast-paced read which I would recommend to readers that enjoys thrillers with a side of supernatural.

– NJ

Book blurb:

It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Thank you to Walker Books for the opportunity to review this book.

 

Burning by Danielle Rollins

Tucked away, deep in the woods, Brunesfield Correctional Facility’s cold walls and empty hallways keep dangerous girls away from the world . . . girls like Angela Davis, whose fate was determined by one bad decision. After a few years in juvie, Angela is finally close to her release, but everything changes the day a new warden with dark plans takes over. Angela knows evil when she sees it, and as strange disappearances and frightening incidents happen more and more frequently, it becomes clear that Brunesfield could be the end of them. Angela and her friends must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves from very place keeping them locked away?

My review
I really enjoyed this book as it took me down memory lane and reminded me of one of my favourite childhood movies called Firestarter; a movie with a very young Drew Barrymore with the ability to control fire with her mind and I loved how the author also included the importance of water and then added in so so much more. Full of conspiracies theory’s to keep the mind boggled and puzzling out what is going to happen next with plenty of suspense. A very enjoyable read that will give an insight into what it’s like to be faced with the impossible odds and having to make hard choices for the sake of survival.

My Recomendation
I’m going to say ages 13 and up depending on maturity level as it has a lot of conspiracies that might confuse some of the young readers. However if you love conspiracies and intrigue then this is a great book.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

– Crystal

The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford – Summer Reading Blog Tour

Firstly I would like to give my special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for selecting me to be part of this Summer Reading Blog Tour and for sending me an Advanced Review Copy of this book.

Sadly, when I came on board, my excitement was rattled as a controversial issue came to light regarding the author of this book. Whilst I do not support any level of bad form anywhere, in any community, I would like to state my posting here does not endorse or reject the issue that came to light. As I was not directly involved in the incident that occurred, I cannot make comment on the matter other than I sincerely hope both parties are able to reach a mutual resolution amicably and I send my best to both of them.

The Harper Effect
I am a fan of the Young Adult genre and as an adult reading this book, I didn’t mind the story line as it was interesting to experience the life of a young tennis player who was dumped by her coach and is trying to deal with this and life in general. I agree, the character can be unlikeable with such problematic behaviour demonstrated throughout the book. However, the way I saw this character, it felt like reading about child stars. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it could explain it to a degree. Some say child stars who engage in reprehensible behaviour aren’t always held accountable as they may not have the maturity or capacity to understand or self-reflect due to the pressure to be perfection. Personally, I can see the book going 2 ways. I can see a contemporary young adult reader enjoy the story, especially with the sporty/tennis elements illustrated throughout the book that you would not often see and I can also see the reader having issue with the character herself.

As far as a recommendation goes – I would recommend anyone who has heard about this book simply to read it for themselves to form their own opinion on the book as I normally do with books I hear about.
-Annie

Q&A with author, Taryn Bashford on 23 December 2017 as part of the Summer Reading Blog Tour

 Is “The Harper Effect” is this your debut novel? Tell us what you have written/published to date.
Yes, The Harper Effect is my debut novel. That’s not to say there aren’t a fair few unpublished ones keeping each other company in a trunk in the attic!

What was your inspiration to write “The Harper Effect” and how did you come up with the characters in your story?
The Harper Effect has been through quite a transformation because it began as a middle grade novel when I first wrote it at the age of 14. At the time, my brother was entering the professional tennis world, while I was training for the Olympics track events. Sport was and still is a big part of my life, so it was only natural that ‘GAME FACE’ as it was once called, was pulled out of said trunk. I already had Aria and Harper in the original story, although back then they were twins! The feedback I got from publishers was that the market was over twins, and so they became sisters instead. I added Jacob and Colt because having read about a hundred YA novels by that stage, I knew I needed a love interest, and a bit of guy conflict is always good. They both came to me quickly and strongly, and sort of wrote themselves into the story.

There appears to be a tennis theme in “The Harper Effect” I am wondering if you a sports fan or player yourself? Is tennis your favourite sport?
My brother is the tennis nut. He played professionally and then became a coach, working with amazing players like Amelie Mauresmo, Michael Chang and Marcos Baghdatis. As an adult I’m very interested in exploring teens who surpass the norm – not just in sport but in any aspect of life. I’m keen to explore what it takes, why they are able to achieve such amazing things, and then to also reveal that they still have flaws, like any average person. I think that makes them more real, and it makes teens wanting to achieve great things feel like it’s a possibility – that anyone can achieve their dreams.

As you were writing this story, what was the best piece of advice you were given that you would pass on to aspiring writers?
To write every day. Even if it’s just for an hour. It keeps you connected to the story and the characters, and it helps you stay in control of all the threads that you’re weaving. I also find that it’s easier to stay immersed in the story world, and that means it becomes so real to you that the characters begin to tell you what story to write.

If you had to choose winter by the fireplace or summer by the beach to read your favourite book, where would you choose?
Definitely winter by the fireplace. When I’m at the beach I like to swim and rock climb and hunt for crabs.

Where is your favourite place to eat?
Italy!

Do you have any book signing tour plans or scheduled appearances in Australia?
I have an exciting event planned for the 18th January at Annie’s Books in Peregian Beach, QLD. As I’m promoting #GirlsInSport, I have a panel of elite athletes coming to the book launch to reveal how they got into the sport they love and what it takes to reach the levels they have. The panel includes Queensland’s 18 & Under Captain and one of our sprint hopefuls who’s been selected for the Commonwealth Games nomination event. I hope that The Harper Effect will provide sporty and confident role models for our teens, and I hope that the story inspires girls to stay in sport and to dream big.

How can readers get connected with you?
I think I’ve covered most bases with this list 😊
Website: www.tarynbashford.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TarynBashford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009813250572
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarynbashford/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32941900-the-harper-effect
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs7zV9t8YPY

Reign the Earth by A.C Gaughen

Release Date: January 2018

A fantastic start to a promising series!!!

This was one book that had me on the edge of my seat as I was gasping, cringing and rapidly turning the page to simply know what happened next. The plot was interesting as it follows the story of a young girl, Shalia, who is a proud yet naive daughter of the desert and after many years of war with another tribe/kingdom, she was used as a pawn via an arranged marriage with the king of the opposing tribe as a means to bring peace to both worlds. Shalia’s betrothed, Calix, the king, is motivated by a strong desire to kill all who identify as Elementae – magical people who have powers that can control the elements: earth, air, wind and fire.

So the question is, when two worlds become one family, what becomes of the proud, naive daughter of the desert when she is crowned queen as a result of this arranged marriage and learns of her new husband’s plans then later discovers her true self once she is thrown into this whole new world?

I found it was interesting to follow Shalia’s perspective during the story and how she grows as a character when taken out of her world of order and thrown into a world of chaos where, for her, it’s sink or swim – follow what is expected of her to retain peace or question everything, be true to herself and risk war. Does she thrive or just manage to survive?

This story is dark and it does take you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. For some of the themes covered, I would be more likely to recommend this to older YA readers, adults who enjoy fantasy fiction stories or who, like me, LOVE stories set in the desert. This had a great plot, is fast paced and it even confused me when I was trying to decide where my loyalties were during the story. I would love to read the sequel!!

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

The Selection, The Elite and The One by Kiera Cass

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass is one that was really enjoyed by us!!! From beginning to end, it was a series we were so captivated by. Here are our thoughts on the series…

Annie’s Review:

I was given these books as a birthday gift from my friend Amanda who highly recommended the series to me and told me to “embrace the cheese”.. Embrace the cheese I did!!! I have to say I really enjoyed this series from beginning to end – the storyline was so addictive and it was one of those series where I fell in love or absolutely loathed characters which is not usually a reaction I have to books!! When I have an emotional reaction to a book, I know it’s an epic story. The writing style is very easy to read and it’s so easy to get engrossed into the series so quickly. I called this a Dystopian Cinderella meets The Bachelor. With plot twists and gasping revelations, I highly recommend this series to fans of YA Fantasy Fiction and Dystopia.

 

Meredith’s Review:

The Selection

I enjoyed ‘The Selection’ more than I thought I would. It was one of the books I was told over over again to read. When I finally did pick it up, went straight to the bottom of my TBR piles… I wasn’t planning on getting sucked into the story or even falling in love with some of the characters. But I did. Oh, I did. I’m off to find book two, which is in one of my many TBR piles.

The Elite 
Seriously. What’s with the cliffhanger? Couldn’t this book gone on longer? I really need a voodoo doll for the king. The king gives me the creeps. With how the book ended I’m going straight into the third book. Looks like I’m not going to get any sleep tonight.

The One 
I was not expecting to cry in this book. But I did a couple of times. After I cried the first time, I had to put the book down for a few days. Because I couldn’t (or did not l) believe what had just happened. The second time was happy tears. Well worth the time to read this book. I’m really looking forward to book 4 now.

 

NJ’s Review:

The Selection series is just so addictively good. It’s The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games! When I first started reading I was thinking who would name their child America Singer? But after I finished the series, America Singer was not just a name but an icon (wait until you read The Heir and The Crown). Reading this book is like watching an addictive reality TV and with each chapter, you get closer to the fairytale ending. This series is so much fun to read, I was so sad when it ended! I feel that it’s one of those fun series that you won’t regret reading. I also want to take a moment to say the cover art is just amazing. The dresses are so beautiful that it inspired me to craft these miniature dress magnets/brooches (see below). Feel free to check out my Insta (@TheCurioBoutique) for more bookish crafts!