The Rise of the Dawnstar by Farah Oomerbhoy

Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes.

The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world.

BLOODY CLIFFHANGERS!!!

I’m currently using my inside voice as I scream into my pillow over this cliffhanger!!

I am also searching one handed through my books trying to find the next book until I realised that book three has not yet been released (now I am crying into my pillow because I want to know what happens next).

The characters grow and follow the path of getting slightly wiser, as we follow Aurora along, she meets new people, family and comes into her power.

I need the next book!!!

-Meredith

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Whisper by Lynette Noni

“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me.

“I believed them. That was my mistake… There isn’t anyone else in the world like me… I’m different. I’m an anomaly, I’m a monster…”

For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four a.k.a ‘Jane Doe’ has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word…

Imagine if you had an ability (or curse) where every time you spoke, something bad happens? Meet Jane Doe.. she has been locked up in a secret security facility for about 2 years and hasn’t spoken a word at all.. Why is she there? What is this all about? What has she done?

What I found with this book and what I liked most was different it was from the author’s previous works – the author really set this book apart from the Medoran Chronicles as it’s really quite a unique concept. Even with a detailed beginning, I came to know the characters pretty quickly and modest plot development kept me turning the page. Although my head was filled with so many unanswered questions, I also enjoyed some nice surprises along the way!! It really does keep you guessing and that’s what I enjoyed about this book.

I would say if you enjoyed Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi or Everlife by Gena Showalter, you may enjoy this one. Special thanks to Pantera Press for sending me a review copy of this book.

Keep an eye out at your local bookstores – this awesome book will be hitting the shelves very soon!!!
-Annie

The Continent by Keira Drake

Vaela Sun is a young girl from a prestigious family aspires to be a cartographer. For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire however for Vaela, the war holds little interest as she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land. But what starts as a sight-seeing adventure soon turns into her fight for survival as she is sucked into the combat between the two nations on The Continent.

I heard about this book some time ago and heard of its controversy. I was later informed this entire book was rewritten and sensitivity readers were hired for the edits. Given the effort applied to this book, I thought I would give this a chance and keep an open mind whilst reading it. I also kept in mind the question I always keep in mind when reading “is it in context”? For example: when a racist remark is in the dialogue between characters – is it portraying a character as racist and are those comments exactly what a racist character would say? etc which brings out the character quite clearly rather than a story just being offensive. What I took from this is it’s about a young girl who dreams to be a cartographer and lives in the Spire, an elite federation and was given a rare opportunity to explore the mysterious continent – a place known for civil disruption and war. What starts off as an expedition soon turns into a struggle for survival. To me, the plot and dialogue made sense and the way in which the protagonist responded to her situation clearly demonstrated how a young girl from an elite federation would respond when trapped in foreign lands and there is a significant language barrier. I found the story had more focus on the character’s feelings, though there is a lot of action (it is quite violent so I would say more suited to an older YA audience) and a relatively detailed pace but not too overly descriptive. The world building was structured well so you can picture all areas in the story.

Special thanks to Harlequin Teen Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

-Annie

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Welcome to Caraval… Beware of getting swept too far..

Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella Dragna have never left their tiny island of Trisda. Having lived under the rule of an iron fist that was their father, Governor Dragna, their lives have been nothing of dark days – any time Scarlett was do something, Tella would cop it and vice versa however now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval — the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s life long dreamt invitation finally arrives and with the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella and Scarlett go away to the show yet once they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer: Legend and this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

This suspense in this book really sucked me in. It felt like two movies I have seen: “The Game” meets “The Illusionists” and while this book was set on an island and a game where the line between fantasy and reality is blurred, I imagined this to be a sick, twisted circus or carnival I never want a ticket to. It was very easy to read and whilst the plot kept us in suspense – particularly on the true identity of some of the characters like the mysterious sailor, Legend, among others, the story was quite fast paced. I admired the sibling love between Tella and Scarlett yet it also frustrated me. The twists throughout the story also kept me turning the page and it was one of those stories you feel are predictable but they’re not. I thoroughly enjoyed this more than I expected to. I recommend this to readers who seek stories to leave their world behind – just try not to get too swept away!!!

-Annie

Snow, Fire, Sword by Sophie Masson

An amazing YA urban fantasy that is set on the backdrop of mythological Indonesia!!! A race against time to the very heart of an explosive secret… the truth about Snow, Fire and Sword. Dewi has never ventured beyond her village in the highlands of Jayangan, where she lives a comfortable life with her father, the respected village healer. But one day while working in the rice fields, she stumbles across Adi, an apprentice sword-maker, alone and hiding from the bloodthirsty bandits who kidnapped his beloved master.

When Dewi’s father also goes missing, she seeks the advice of the powerful tiger-people who watch over her village, but even they can see only so far through the cloud of sorcery that hangs over the kingdom. They leave her with a cryptic message: she and Adi must discover the true meaning of Snow, Fire and Sword before they can find her father and the other missing elders and reveal the truth about the danger that threatens Jayangan.

I had such a personal connection to this book as it was the very first time I managed to find a YA urban fantasy that was set on the backdrop of mythological Indonesia!!! It was the first time I was able to share a book with my Mum as we were able to discuss all the West Javanese legends contained throughout this story. I loved this book so much, I really took my time to read it so I was able to saviour it for as long as I could. A lot of the terminology used, I was able to understand first go but I thought it was fantastic that a glossary was included at the end of this book for the non-Indonesian speaking readers. The story moved at a reasonably quick pace, it allowed me to picture a whole new world that was inspired by true Indonesian landscape – I was able to picture the characters and the traditional Indonesian attire they were wearing so clearly. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy urban fantasies with reference to cultural legends – please note I had to get this book via Print on Demand. I’m so grateful to have this book on my shelf as it was such an immersive read, it is definitely a favourite!!!

-Annie

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Although Nahri can wield power, she has never believed in magic and on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent – the ability to swindle Ottoman nobles under the guise of palm readings, healings but when Nahri accidentally summons a djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. Behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, old resentments are simmering and when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal.

This is my 2018 book love!!! From start to finish, I absolutely loved this book, I really enjoyed the incredible, magical, fast paced world building as well as the dialogue between the characters we come to meet throughout the story. I also loved the historical aspects of the book and the accurate referencing to King Sulaiman, Djinn (or Daeva), The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Turkey. With it, the developing story line kept me on the edge of my seat and a few times I thought I managed to predict what will happen next – I was wrong. I also found with this book that it was one of those books I wanted to immerse myself in so much that I took my time to read it – and by the time I got to the end of the story, I just had to pay it a moment of silence before I could go on. Every chapter I was reading, there was something happening, I also loved how well defined the characters were and how each character made you question your loyalty in the book (whose side are you on in this new, political world).

An historical/urban fantasy suitable to older YA and adult readers – a story full of magic, intrigue and mystery, I give this under-hyped debut novel a 10/10 and I really can’t wait for the next instalment!!!

Publisher: Harper Voyager

-Annie

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

I have just finished reading The Belles, first words that came to mind for me was: scary villains, intriguing, fast-paced plot and imaginative. For a young adult book, it explores the heavy themes of body commodification and cosmetic surgery. Camillia is a Belle with a special place in a dystopian world because she has powers to make others look beautiful. In her role, she must navigate through many ethical choices and figure out how to work in a world where beauty is an expectation, love is forbidden and magic is coveted. This book also has some horrifying villains; the story touches on themes of bullying, envy, and narcissism. Overall, I loved the world-building, character development, and plot twists. I also love the beautiful cover featuring POC main character. I think the writer is very imaginative in how she wrote about the world, making it both glamorous and terrifying. This is such a unique book with great themes. The story kept me on the edge of my seat and I can’t wait for the next book. Recommend this for fantasy readers.

– NJ

Blurb:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Publisher: Hachette