A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

“It’s easy to poke fun at the world and think yourself clever but it’s much harder to stand silent and endure…”

This story is about Henrietta Howel… The first female sorcerer… The prophesied one… Or is she?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her and as Henrietta “Nettie” discovers the secrets hiding behind the sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s truly the prophesied one.

A magical story of identity and wielding some awesome magic through the elements.

I Loved this read and I recommend this to fans of Harry Potter, magic and fantasy fiction.

Told in first person by the protagonist, “Nettie”, what I liked most about this book was the use of magic to control the elements in a world where magical talent wasn’t just with the wave of a wand (or stave)characters could wield power of the elements through your palms. What I also liked was the journey Nettie has had to take to discover herself and her talent, meanwhile learning of her true heritage and a prophecy that can set her on the trajectory to save the world – or destroy her. I really cannot wait for the sequel now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the character development, world building, style of writing and the storyline with twists and turns!!

-Annie

Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet

These are 2 books I read one after another – a new personal favourite, I am looking forward to book 3!!!

A Promise of Fire: Book 1
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. A smart-mouthed soothsayer, she has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar but when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice but to tap in to her power. Griffin, another character you meet, is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm and when he discovers Cat’s identity, he abducts her…
An addictive read, one that I couldn’t put down!!! A Promise of Fire is a beautiful way to start a series.
The characters know how to handle themselves and I wanted to know what happens to them next. The characters had the feelings that I’ve known them for a few years and that they were friends.

Breath of Fire: Book 2
Catalia “Cat” Fisa’s story continues as she’s been on the run from her destiny ever since she could crawl but now she’s caught between the shadow of her tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future..

As soon as I started to read Breath of Fire, I was immersed. The only put this book down once and that was to get a couple hours of sleep before I went to work. As soon as I was walking to the train station my nose was straight back into this world. I was ecstatic to be with Cat and Griffin and the other members of the Beta team, again. The relationships between all the characters have been growing. Their pasts are also coming out slowly coming to light. Magic, adventure, action, and the Greek Gods are all part of the fun.

Many thanks to Hachette Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

“Some seek justice even in the absence of proof…”

An epic heroic fantasy fiction that meets the wild, wild west!!!

Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after he failed a magical duel which confirmed the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee.

On the run and unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magical ability and even tries to find the source of the curse but as Kellen uncovers a conspiracy involving members of his own clan who are planning to take power, he tries to go back to his city in a desperate bid to get them before they get him or destroy his family.

I found this to be an adventurous, magical read with captivating world building that doesn’t bore you. I also enjoyed the unique spin on the wielding of magic/non magic.. I loved the deck of cards concept however I wont go into it to avoid spoilers. There was always something happening with the storyline and the characters and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next with the main character Kellen.. (I hate his sister btw and felt that very early on lol) you will understand why when you read this. I highly recommend this to fans of fantasy fiction with a hint of the wild, west!!

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

-Annie

A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

We had the pleasure of meeting internationally renowned author Nadia Hashimi last Spring when she visited Australia!

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The Read3r’s Re-Vu group was very excited to hear about her bestselling novels and engaging in conversation about her journey, writing and how she finds time to write while working as a pediatrician and mother of four!

Nadia’s bestselling books include The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, A House Without Windows, When the Moon is Low and her Young Adult fiction, One Half from the East.

Among Nadia’s bestsellers, Read3rz blogger NJ read A House Without Windows. Check out her blog thoughts below.


“Time passes differently through a woman’s body. We are haunted by all the hours of yesterday and teased by a few moments of tomorrow. That is how we live – torn between what has already happened and what is yet to come.” – Nadia Hashimi, A House Without Windows

This book is more than just another story about Afganistan, it’s a story about women – women who helped each other in the most abysmal of circumstances, women who are resilient, intelligent, brave and powerful during times of struggle and fear, living in a strict society with little to no societal status and rights. A House Without Windows is an empowering read that tugs your heart strings. The story starts with Zeba’s husband, who was brutally murdered in their family home. Zeba was imprisoned for his murder despite the lack of witness and evidence. In order to defend her and save her from death row, Zeba’s lawyer Yusuf must find out what really happened. He must also navigate the convoluted, arbitrary methodologies of Afganistan’s legal system. After reading this novel, I must say that I’m still extremely shocked by the truth of the murder! What I really loved about this book is the interplay between themes of truth and morality, faith and law, honour and justice, society and family, magic and hope from the eyes of the characters. Reading these contrasting themes is like watching a riveting dance, it just makes you want to read on. I also loved the thoughtful writing and complex characters, from the powerful Gulnaz, a loving mother but bewitching trickster, to the Mullah with a hidden past; the characters are compelling and raw. I enjoyed reading about the prison sisterhood too, their stories made me feel so grateful to be living in a society where women have rights. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns or To Kill a Mocking Bird. This story is well written, thought-provoking and heartfelt, leaving the reader with much to think about after the last page.

– NJ

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince – The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic

Advanced Review Copy Blog Duet with Annie and Sarah S. rating this book 4.5 Stars!!

Frogkisser!
Princess Anya is forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss and forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Princess Anya sets off on a Quest to hopefully free her land and teach her a thing or two about the use of power.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this fun retelling of “The Tale of the Frog Prince”. The story was full of fun adventure that would instigate the fright, magic and humour of readers of all ages. Frogkisser! starts out with detailed world building that really shapes your understanding of the protagonist, Princess Anya, rightful heiress to the throne, who, like me, would rather spend her days in the library reading and expanding her knowledge however she is approached by her sister, Morven, who begs Anya to help her get her beloved prince back once he was transformed into a frog by their evil stepstepfather who is attempting to usurp the throne. Reluctantly, Princess Anya agrees and what do you know – Princess Anya must embark on a Quest in an attempt to create a lip balm that will give Princess Anya’s lips the strength to kiss frogs back to human life. I loved the imagination the author put into creating such interesting human and non human animals and the way the land was built and told to the reader was so intricate, it really places you there. I also enjoyed the amusing quest Princess Anya had to endure – when focusing on one goal, she’s roped into several.  I also found the story brought back fond memories of my childhood and my love for Fairytales and elements of “The Wizard of Oz”. Frogkisser! is very well written, very imaginative with such innocent adventure, I would most probably read this again. I recommend this to fans of fairytales of all ages!!!
-Annie

Frogkisser covers familiar fantasy ground: an evil step-parent, a princess in a tower, a frog transformed into a prince, a fearsome creature in the castle moat and a threat to the rightful succession of the throne. Fortunately, Garth Nix takes these basic ingredients and transforms them into a surprising and whimsical tale, which thwarts readers’ expectations in nearly every respect. Our protagonist is Anya, the second-oldest princess of Trallonia, who is much concerned with her burgeoning education in sorcery and would like nothing more than some quality time in the library. Anya’s studies are sadly interrupted by a request from her sister (Morven, the crown princess on the cusp of coronation) to turn a frog back into a handsome prince, the result of their evil stepfather’s interference. What should have been the work of an afternoon unfolds into a much larger quest to reunite a divided kingdom and return civil rights to the people. The book offers strong growth of its protagonist as well as welcome and necessary representation of women in traditionally male roles, such as wise wizards, knights, leaders and heralds. Frogkisser is appropriate for audiences from 8-88 years, providing all of the magic, friendship, excitement and charming animal companions any child could ask for. The prose style also has shades of Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynn Jones, and with its many subversions of classic fantasy tropes adult readers will find much to enjoy here.
-Sarah S.

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

“There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

Necromancer meets Memoirs of a Geisha – 4.5 stars!

Expected publication in March 2017

Tea is a witch like no other that’s been born into the eight kingdoms for decades; when her powers awakened, she unwittingly used her powers as a necromancer to resurrect her dead brother. As a new and rare Bone Witch, she must follow her path to become a fully fledged dark Asha wielding dark powers that could either save or destroy her world; powers that are misunderstood, feared and frowned upon.

This book is amazing with creative world building mixed with lyrical, engaging story-telling. The Bone Witch has exceeded my expectations, it’s got an absorbing and interesting premise which is used to explore the themes of self-discovery, journey, politics and diversity. Tea’s apprenticeship to become a dark Asha is akin to that of the Memoirs of  Geisha, very interesting! Book 1 sets up well for the sequel which I just can’t wait to read! I also enjoyed how the story was told using foreshadowing, like a story within a story through alternating perspectives. It is very well written and highly recommended read for readers who enjoys a YA fantasy story somewhat similar to Memoirs of a Geisha but with magic, the walking dead, monsters, potions, magical dresses, spells, prophecies, necromancing and amazing world building.

Other interesting quotes:

“you will always have a weakness, and that will always make you believe you have no power when someone exploits it. There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

“People will never be what you make of them, but at least your own heart stays yours and true.”

– NJ

 

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

4 Stars – Omg the plot twists!

Three Dark Crowns #1

Triplet sisters Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella are graced with very different magical powers (poisoner, naturalist and elementalist). They must follow their predecessors’ steps and fight to the death to become the sole queen of Fennbirn when they turn 16. This book is something of a mesh between Game of Thrones meets Pretty Little Liars meets The Crown’s Game!

I loved the plot twists and the magical powers. Things I thought would happen didn’t (which is great!). I am loving how the game skyrocketed between the three queens after a certain catastrophic event – and who can blame them?! This first book sets up well for the sequel but also has its own shocking twists and turns. The fight for the throne have gone bloody, personal and ever more strategic. I’ve got Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” song ringing my head… Recommended for fantasy readers. I also recommend that you don’t give up at the beginning even though it is a little slow because the plot twists are well worth the read.

– NJ

Click here to read the book blurb on Goodreads