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.

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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

 

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

The Junior Readers Round Up

We’ve posted a few blogs that cater for our children’s readers however I thought it may also be beneficial to post a Junior Fiction Round Up. These recommendations are for the older kids who don’t quite read YA just yet…

Here are some recommendations!!!


The Rogues: Accidental Heroes, Book 1 by Lian Tanner
Expected Publication: October 2017

Synopsis as seen on Goodreads: In the city of Berren, strange things happen. People disappear, trees sprout overnight. But no one believes in magic. To believe in magic would be disloyal…The devious Lord Rump and his granddaughter, Duckling, need a disposable boy, and Pummel, a farm boy looking for work in the city, fits the bill perfectly. Duckling is happy to tangle him in her grandpa’s web, as long as Grandpa keeps his promise – that this will be his very last Scheme. Lord Rump’s intrigues take both children into the Strong-hold of Berren – where time has stopped – and before long they are entwined in a plot to kill the heir to the Faithful Throne. If they want to protect the Young Margrave, and save themselves from an awful death, Duckling and Pummel must learn to use the magic that no one believes in. This is a book filled with epic adventure!! It’s highly recommended to readers who love fantasy adventure and are aged between 8-12 year olds. Even as an adult, I found this book to be quite exciting and a lot of fun to read – I am sure kids will love this!!

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

Girlish: An empowering journal for the twenty-first century girl by Alana Wulff.
“Don’t be afraid to be the smartest person in the room”

“I never cut class. I loved getting A’s. I liked being smart. I liked being on time. I thought being smart was cooler than anything in the world” -Michelle Obama

A great journal every young girl from the age of 9 years old should have – a journal that teaches young girls a sense of empowerment and self-confidence. I think it’s great for young girls to have this book – it’s ok to be smart, it’s ok to go for your goals – don’t let anyone else tell you differently!!!

Special thanks to Black Inc. Publishers for sending me an Advance Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Pirate McSnottbeard in the Zombie Terror Rampage by Paul Whitfield
This was a funny book – one that can be enjoyed by all the family and the laughter (as in the LOL type) starts from its title.. Pirate McSnottbeard!!! This story is about Emilie and her brother William who embark on an adventure to rescue their parents from the horrible and smelly pirate king – Pirate McSnottbeard. Whisked from the high seas, through prehistoric lands, into an evil wizard’s castle and finally to the PIRATES’ clifftop hideout, they must tackle dinosaurs, zombies, angry parrots, and at least one warlock. I read this book then handed it to my friend’s daughter who is 8 years old who then handed it to her brother who is 7 years old – the 3 of us absolutely loved this book!!! From beginning to end we found ourselves cracking up laughing at the characters and the story line. Highly recommended for junior fiction readers aged 7+

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

The Secret Throne by Peter F. Hamilton.

The Secret Throne is the first installment of the children’s fantasy series: Queen of Dreams.
Taggie and her younger sister, Jemima, live with their mum, go to school, play sports and spend their holidays with their dad in the countryside. But one day, everything changes, when a white squirrel wearing purple glasses turns up in their lives. Next minute.. their dad has been kidnapped and it’s up to Taggie and Jemima to get him back. But it seems their father has been keeping some very large secrets from his young daughters and it appears their dad is no ordinary man.
Once again I read this one and passed it on to younger readers I know for a second opinion and this one was very well received. It’s an intelligent tale – one that is very suitale to the junior readers as it’s full of adventure and intrigue with underlying words of wisdom that all kids should know. I highly recommend this to junior readers who love adventures and mystery!!! This book is the first of a series that is worth investing in. Peter F. Hamilton is better known for his fantasy fiction/sci-fi stories that target an adult audience however he’s done very well with plot and dialogue with his children’s series!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me review copies in exchange for my honest review.

-Round Up compiled by Annie

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

This book is infuriatingly good!!!

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.  But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

This book is infuriatingly good. The type of book where I will wave it at you and tell you to read it every chance I get. It is brutally honest with its themes and how they reflect on our own society. I feel like I will never be able to express how thought provoking and important this story is.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!!
-Amanda

 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

To simply call this a fairytale retelling would do this story an injustice.. This is a uniquely, magical story in its own right…

This would be one of the best books I have read this year… A story of mystery, identity, magical betrayal and intrigue.. A story of one crown – two women: Mina, whose heart is made of glass.. Lynet, who is made of snow.. both brought to life by a magician the kingdom is taught to fear..

A step-mother/step-daughter relationship based in a kingdom in need of only one queen. At sixteen years of age, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees their king for the first time, Mina makes it her mission to win the king’s heart through her beauty to become queen and finally know what love is. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother to Lynet, who at aged fifteen, is the  splitting image of her late mother but one day Lynet discovers why… A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order but rather than filling the shoes of her late mother, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. What started as a bond between step-mother and step-daughter may soon become a fight to the death for the crown…

 I gave this book a standing ovation. This story takes you into a whole new world of twists, turns and mystery whicht left me gaping, page turning and confused as to which character had my allegiance. This story had fantastic world building and was mildly paced so it allowed me to immerse myself into this new world as well as the character development but the suspensful plot got the heart pumping and captivated me to the very end!!! Such an amazing story and I highly recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings (although I find this book is more than that) and fans of YA Fantasy Fiction… This is on the shelf as one of the best of 2017!!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

The first installment of “The Oremere Chronicles” this is a gripping fantasy series of epic proportions!!!

Heart of Mist is a dark and interesting tale set in a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power. Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital. But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.
The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

I found this lived up to its initial pitch – it really was an interesting and dark tale of a woman’s lonely journey through self-destruction, loss but finally owning her own destiny. An intense story that is action packed but doesn’t flow too quickly for the reader. There’s a great balance between an intense story line, well defined characters and action in a world of fantasy fiction. I am not a fan of e-books so this took me awhile to read but I really made an effort to read this as I found the premise to be very promising and the concept of the main character, Bleak’s, forbidden magic captivated me. Imagine having a power so forbidden because you’re in a realm where magic is forbidden and the only way to manage your day to day activity is through drowning your power with alcohol. I really enjoyed this book now I will find a hardcopy and re-read it!!! This is very well written and the world building was so well done it doesn’t bore you. If anything, it held my attention.

Many thanks to author, Helen Scheuerer for giving me an Advanced Review E-Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie