Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Work hard… Mischief harder…

From the writer of The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate comes an exciting new fantasy series full of magic, intrigue, betrayal and action!!!

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.  As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when the pair encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

This was interesting book, definitely not what I expect or got used to with this amazing author from her previous books. If like me, you’ve read “The Crown’s Game” and “The Crown’s Fate” cast your mind away from that duology if you wish to tap into this new series. This is very different. It’s a whole new world, whole new playing field.. I enjoyed the cultural fusion in this book that reminded me of Asian and European legends and tales. Although the book did take some time to engage me in the beginning due to slow plot development and world building, the twists that popped up throughout the story and the interesting characters held my attention to the end. The friendship between our two main characters was something I adored so much and there were moments throughout the book that touched my heart. I found this book is something you need to read without any distraction. The world building is detailed and the multiple perspectives can confuse you if you’re not 100% focused on the story. I have faith in this series so I am definitely invested and looking forward to the sequel now.

Special thanks to Harper Collins publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Release Date: End of January/Early February 2019

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win but we must play all the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless”

A contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast – none like you have ever read before!!!! 

“Fall in love, break the curse… Break the curse, save the kingdom..”

Rhen: It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope…

Harper: Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world…

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. Powerful forces are standing against the land of Emberfall and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people…

This was a fantastically, amazing beauty and the beast retelling!!! None like I have ever read before!!! I enjoyed the dual perspective as it was to distinguish both characters: Rhen and Harper. The story made grow to care for the characters very much. I have to be honest, I found Jake annoying, Noah to be lovely but my heart is with Grey!! From beginning to end, the story traveled and developed at a great pace. I loved how as we progressed, more secrets are unlocked and wow that ending – I honestly did not see it coming!!!

This was the first time I ever read a book either cerebral palsy representation and I feel it was written very well. I did a buddy read for this book with a dear friend who also has cerebral palsy and throughout the reading, I cross referenced what we read and she too agreed an individual with cerebral palsy was represented very well in this book. What I admired was how Harper, who is the character with cerebral palsy, did not have her condition define her. If anything, she is someone who just happens to have cerebral palsy. She is a very head strong, loyal and determined young lady above everything else.

I strongly recommend this book to all who enjoy YA fantasy fiction and story retellings. It is truly one of my 2019 book loves already!

Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an advance review copy of this book.
-Annie

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

First book in a new Sci-Fi series!!!!

Both NJ and Annie had the privilege of reading Maria’s manuscript then the advanced review copy before it hit the shelves. It was quite an amazing experience to be part of Maria’s journey as her first readers!!!

‘Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.  When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who…’

I really enjoyed Navigating The Stars! If you liked the Inside Out series, you’ll enjoy this one more as the characters are older and the world is bigger. If you have read her other works or is a fan of Maria’s novels, you will continue to enjoy the level of detail she puts into amazing world building, plot twists and characters in this new series.
-NJ

This book was pretty amazing, very fun to read with some hilariously witty dialogue. The premise was what captured my attention first – a story about terracotta warriors set in outer space!! So clever, so unique and I really enjoyed following the protagonist Li-Li (or Lyra) I loved the banter between her and Niall whom she meets on this intergalactic adventure and the storyline was quite fast paced.
-Annie

An exclusive interview with Maria V. Snyder to come – stay tuned!!!

Special thanks to Maria V. Snyder for having us on board as her early readers and to Harlequin Teen Publishers for sending us Advance Review Copies of this book.

 

 

Kidz Korner Special: Junior Fiction Recommendations

This post is a special dedication for our young readers aged 8 years and up… The following have been read and enjoyed by young and old alike – we hope you will tap into these and enjoy them too…

(Please note some reviews have come from children – names not published to protect their privacy)

Lintang Series by Tamara Moss – Books 1 and 2.
 

This was interesting as it was the first time we saw Indonesian character names in a junior fiction novel. The first 2 books are full of adventure and I am invested in the series I want to read the 3rd one when I can. What I liked was there wasn’t a lot of dialogue but more story and adventure. Both books had a serious story but it was funny, it was a bit scary but kids won’t get nightmares which is great. Recommend this to adventure fans and school friends but beware of Malam Rasha Night Terrors (hehe). Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending review copies of these books – was a lot of fun to read!!

Jake Atlas and the Hunt of the Feathered God by Rob Lloyd Jones

I really liked this book as it was adventurous and very fast paced. It was an exciting adventure as the characters had to find an ancient tomb in the hidden temple but the secret passage was supposed to stop them but the characters are too sly for the puzzles they are very clever. The story was very clever I liked the mystery and the problem solving. At times it made me confused but that’s what made it very cool. Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

Annie and Simon – Banana Muffins and Other Stories

A 3 in 1 book. This book really made me want to eat banana muffins but there wasn’t any!!!! The funniest part of this book was the Bobo – it’s a baby dummy (hehe) she tried to say everything but she said Simon and it came out Thymon Bobo, it was really cute and really funny. Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy of this book, now I’m off to make banana muffins!

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys

This was fantastic and awkward hahaha!!! I loved it, it was so much fun and I think all my friends should read this because it was really funny and very exciting. My favourite bit – they made a girl float because she wanted to float in a bubble but the bubble didn’t pop unless she was in a safe place – she took a pill, very much like Willy Wonka. I wont show this to my brother, he will want to try these inventions at home!! Special thanks to Harbour Publishing House for sending me a review copy of this book.

Polly and Buster Books 1 and 2 by Sally Rippin
Book 1: Polly and Buster, the Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster
Book 2: Polly and Buster, the Mystery of the Magic Stones

 

Who ever heard of a witch and a monster being friends? Everyone knows that witches don’t mix with monsters. Witches are educated, clever, sophisticated. But monsters? Monsters are just uncouth. Some are even dangerous. But Polly the witch and Buster the feelings monster have been best friends forever.  It’s the sort of friendship that makes your heart squeeze with happiness. Somehow, they’ve managed to keep their friendship a secret. Until one day, when everything changes… This was a great story about friendship, secrets and lies and I found the book to be daring and mystical – it was very cool because the adventures the two characters went on were dangerous. It’s a cool series. Special thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont Publishers for sending me the review copies of these books.

Blog post reviews compiled and published by Annie

Michael Jackson: All the Songs – The Story Behind Every Song, Every Video, Every Dance Move by Richard Lecocq and François Allard

The complete, definitive study of Michael Jackson’s artistic legacy.

This is the only book that tells the story behind every single song that the King of Pop ever released – from his formative years with the Jackson Five to his incredible and much-loved output as a solo artist. Over 200 songs, videos and revolutionary dance moves are analysed, uncovering the fascinating stories around their creation and allowing fans the chance to truly understand the artistry behind them.

When this piece of memorabilia turned up on my door step, it was the first time book mail ever reduced me to tears… As a life long fan of Michael Jackson, this book is simply amazing and I agree this is the ultimate encyclopedia for the fans whom now have the opportunity to read the backstory behind every song he ever produced starting from his days as a boy in Steeltown Records to when he and the Jackson 5 hit it big in Mowtown through to his very successful solo career before his untimely death in 2009.. It is so incredibly comprehensive and detailed, just when I thought I knew it all, I learnt something new.  Michael Jackson was indeed one amazing artist taken from us too soon, you really have a piece of him with you in this book. I love and cherish this so much – it’s never leaving the house!!

Special thanks and much love to Hachette Publishers for sending me this beautiful gem for review!!!

Love you always and forever, Michael Jackson…
-Annie

A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night – Gyssha Blackbone made monsters. But the witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess. When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep. Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet and now, with monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help and no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home. – the very place she is emotionally abused by her stepfather, unsupported by her mother and denied an education so much she is illiterate… Regardless, Elodie is determined to make this work…

A story of witches – ancient curses – folklore – strong women.. everything I like in a fantasy novel!!!

I really enjoyed this story, with the start making me feel incredibly frustrated with some of the characters – particularly Elodie’s stepfather, the emotional reaction I felt early on told me to strap on, I’m in for a wild ride.. and I was.. I loved how the story grew as we followed a confused character because as the story unfolded for us it unfolded for Elodie and we learnt things along the way – the secrets, Elodie’s real purpose in being hired.. Some parts were quite creepy but it sent me into a world I least expected. An easy read you can get through pretty quickly, immersive and intriguing.

Special thanks to Harper Voyager Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.
-Annie

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor returns with the sequel to the wonderful Strange the Dreamer with this gem!!!

If you haven’t read Strange the Dreamer yet, please do not read this review as it may contain spoilers…

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep. Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of. Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this great sequel to Strange the Dreamer!!!

I love this book so much. It’s absolutely everything I hoped for and much more. Laini Taylor weaves a magical story about love, found family and redemption. It has so many great themes and characters that have dimension. I am also really happy about the wonderful universe.
It’s amazing!!!

-NJ