The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

“This is what good leaders do,” he said…”They make sacrifices for their people.” – The Last Namsara

Review (Iskari book 1):

What doesn’t this book have? This new YA fantasy series is just amazing, let me count the ways – fire-breathing dragons that love ancient stories, a cursed title and a lifetime scar for a childhood mistake, a dragon slayer trying to prove her worth, her betrothal to a cruel commander when she has given her heart to his slave… need I say more? I think this book got me hooked from the first page, and then the mini stories within the book just hooked me in even more. I was doubtful at first whether I needed another “dragon” story but this one was really good and it’s not just about the dragons. I really liked how the story gave dimensions to the supporting characters – like their motives, hope and their goals; the story also did really well in world-building like setting up the mythical history of the Namsara and Iskari, the slave system, the history of Firgaard and its connection to the dragons. I highly recommend this for fantasy lovers! Have you read it yet? What do you think? Comment below!

– NJ

Book blurb:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Special thank you to Hachette Australia Publisher for providing this E-ARC for my honest review.

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City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Review:

Fast-paced and an action-packed read. I love a good revenge story any day. This young adult, mystery thriller is a really good read, filled with action and plot twists. The main character Tina is courageous and tenacious in her pursuit to avenge her mother’s death, which included joining the local gang and becoming a master thief. It’s a really great exploration of choices, identity, and doing the right thing. I think what I liked most about this book is that the story incorporated real and current issues regarding human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The storytelling does not feel preachy. After learning more about the context of this book, it makes me feel sad that human slavery and rape still happens across the world today. I highly recommend this read for fans of mystery or those who like a plot-driven story that is inspired by real-life issues.

– NJ

Book Blurb:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling YA murder mystery set in Kenya.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

 

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor, Illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

The Ultimate Novella to the number one best seller: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (Hachette, Australia)

In this book, Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy — the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. A story told in alternating perspectives, first following Zuzana who really wants to talk to Mik, aka “The Violin Boy”  and does so by leaving a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: Zuzana herself!!

I really enjoyed this book, I felt it was like a prequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone but in fact, it’s a non-cliche story about Zuzana and Mik’s first meeting. I found this to be a cleverly executed short story with dual perspective, elements of creepy puppets, gothic magic and amazingly detailed architecture. A lot of fun to read and very easy for me to lose myself into. The illustrations were absolutely brilliant, they were so creative and really brought the story to life throughout the book. I also LOVED the independent graphic novel scene from Daughter of Smoke of Bone.

A must read for the fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series!!!

-Annie

 

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

BOOK 1 of the Hex Hall Series

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My review
If you love Harry Potter then you’ll love this book and will be up until 3am in the morning not wanting to put it down just like I did! Sophie just like Harry Potter grew up in the human world and well it’s an interesting twist with the boarding school she ends up going to where it’s more like juvie for the supernatural, but the things is that Sophie actually doesn’t know how to do any magic yet. Follow on her journey to making friends, making enemies, getting into trouble, saving her friend, dealing with a boy crush on someone she can’t have and let’s not forget the evil groups that want her and her school mates dead. A fun filled series that I’m eager to keep reading about.

Recomendation
I’m going to say ages 8 and up but I think anyone at an age that can understand the imaginary and loves books about magic will love this book. Also great for Harry Potter fans who love stories about teenage witches and even twilight fans will enjoy the vamipire and other mythical beings elements in this book.

– Crystal

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T Anderson

 

In a world where technology takes over and ATMs lead the charge!!!

An alien invasion story like no other!!!

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. But is it really an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? Apparently… yes…

I found this to be a quick and very interesting read that takes a different turn on alien invasion stories!!! Normally when we read about sci-fi and alien invasions we think green monsters or intergalactic soldiers defending earth against the universe.. this however treats an alien invasion as a colonisation – and to be honest, I can’t see how different this story is from the real world!!! A world where robots will take over and ATMs will lead the charge to help the economy and automate literally everything!! So where does automation leave families? Following the main character, Adam who is an artist and is battling what he calls an embarrssing illness. He takes it upon himself to support his family in an age of high unemployment in light of this technological invasion and the only way to get ahead is to be part of this alien reality tv show. The plot was quite unique and the story was quite cleverly executed. I found this to be a very fast paced read, all the while thinking – actually, this is happening right now!! I recommend this to readers who enjoy contemporary with elements of sci-fi.

Many thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

 

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

First installment of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark Trilogy – A book you wont put down!!!

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…
One dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive

Once I started to read Knights of the Borrowed Dark, I couldn’t put it down. It dragged me right in. I found myself not caring that I have work tomorrow… I had to finish reading this book. I was not to move until I had finished it. Knights of the Borrowed Dark is well worth the read. I’m going to be tracking down the second book as soon as work finishes tomorrow!!!

Many thanks to Penguin Publishers Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life. But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness. Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all. 

My Review
Violet and Chevy’s story brings to the fore front what most young teens probably think about what fuels the desire for some people to be in a gang.

There is the gang called the Riot who represent the typical corrupted money and power hungry who will do what ever it takes to get revenge and then there is the gang the Reign of Terror who represent being a non blood family who values respect, loyalty and who think they are protecting the ones they love but soon both Violet and Chevy learn that there is no safety and that the non blood family they love can’t protect them.

I really enjoyed how this book was written from two perspectives and how the chapters blended together easily, I also had no idea this book was actually book 3 in a series and that it was so well written that I honestly thought it was a stand alone book.

A beautiful story about breaking dependencies, making choices and forging ones own path in life.

Recomendation:
For teenagers about to embark on studies or life choices this book is a pleasant encouragement about life and making choices while also touching on the dangers of not making a choice or following the wrong crowd.

THIS BOOK HAS AN EASTER EGG!!!
There is a page at the very end with a song list to go with the chapters so give it a try while reading along for a little extra sensory experience.

Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers for supplying this book in exchange for my honest review.
– Crystal