The Last Balfour by Cait Duggan

Iona Balfour’s life is turned upside down when her beloved aunt Grizel is executed for the crime of witchcraft. Before she dies, Grizel appoints Iona as guardian of a precious family bloodstone and tells her she must flee their village and deliver the stone to the mysterious Guild of the Green Lion.

Accompanied by a new friend, Cal, Iona soon realises that she’s awakened the powers of the bloodstone. But it promises to be a perilous journey. The wolf month is no time to be on the road. And there’s a witch hunter on Iona’s trail, who has a strange obsession with the stone.

When a devastating betrayal throws her into the hands of her enemies, Iona soon finds herself in the fight of her life. Will she suffer the same fate as her aunt, or will she escape the witch hunter and fulfil her destiny?

This was a very interesting and insightful historical fantasy story that took me to historical Scotland at a time where witches were burnt at the stake and folk lore was at its peak. It was quite an engaging and interesting story to follow I enjoyed it from beginning to end and I was able to connect with Grizel, our main character and felt her fears, sadness and intensity especially when it came to her sisters Iona and Ishbel. I also enjoyed the clever way the plot unfolded and as well as the characters we met along the way – how their roles intertwined with Scottish folk lore. I can tell thorough research went into the setting, time and legends and it was written very well.

Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishers Australia for sending me a copy of this book for review and for also helping us organise for Cait Duggan to join us as special guest author at our last session, hearing about Cait’s writing journey, Scottish folk-lore and how she managed to blend historical fiction and historical fantasy was truly fascinating. Refer to Read3r’z Re-Vu social media platforms for pics.

Annie

The Witch who Courted Death by Maria Lewis

“It’s a blessing to be able to live how you really are in this life and one that not everyone gets..”

For some, death is a way of life . . . Considering her status as the world’s most powerful medium, Corvossier ‘Casper’ von Klitzing and her twin brother Barastin had a pretty normal life. Her unrivalled ability to speak with and control the dead had made her a living, made her notorious … and made her a target.

After a horrific incident in her home city of Berlin, Casper’s life is forever changed. The sole survivor, she is consumed with vengeance towards an enemy she doesn’t understand. The only other person ever to escape the legendary Oct was a witch – so Casper is soon on her trail.

But this witch does not want to be found.

Diving headfirst into the supernaturally secretive world of spells, charms and covens, it’s not long before Casper is crossing much more than just the line between the living and the dead . . .

The book took me on an adventure I did not quite expect and I had a lot of fun talking to Maria Lewis when running her panel at Oz Comic Con about her writing process, research and the mechanics of putting this book together. I thought the setting in Berlin (one of Maria’s fav. cities) was an interesting place, particularly Boscastle – a place that I have never heard of before, now put on the map. I enjoyed the sibling dynamic between “Creeper and Casper” and “Opal and Sprinkle” characters you come to know in this book . I was most impressed with the characterisation, how we get to know the characters as we read the book rather than through an info dump in the beginning. I felt the characters growing as I was reading. I also liked the witty and humorous dialogue between the characters that made me chuckle along the way. Maria did such a great job in constructing a story full of diverse characters not just from the human world but all manner of creatures and drawing a parallel between the worlds.

It was very entertaining and insightful with travel and historical reference throughout the book. Recommended to readers who enjoy diverse urban fantasy reads.

Annie

Begin. End. Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology edited by Danielle Binks

Captivating, Diverse, Thoughtful and Witty!
This is the YA Event of 2017!!!

           Instagram: read3rz_revu

The authors who contributed to this great YA anthology:
Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Tozer, Danielle Binks and Jaclyn Moriarty.

My immediate thought after reading the anthology is that it’s possibly the most diverse anthology ever compiled. Well done Danielle Binks and the authors! This book is unmistakably Aussie, it contains captivating short stories that make your heart melt. This anthology does not shy away from real topics, it’s loads of fun to read and each story has a unique premise. Themes explored includes love, acceptance, family, politics and coming of age. This anthology covers all the glory of coming of age angst set in interesting settings like bus rides, space, Mars, time travel booths and even tunnels! I particularly enjoyed the relatable and concrete characters. You will find that some of the stories are written with the dry Aussie humour and wit, and some written with great thoughtfulness and consideration. I would love to see the stories become actual novels. This is a great read to get your hands on, it attests to why we love OZ YA novels! Each short story holds its own, with compelling writing and fantastic characters, it’s no doubt a great anthology.
– NJ

This YA Anthology is a brilliant compilation of short stories written by fantastic Aussie YA authors that make you laugh, cry, cringe even ponder on some of the issues that are raised each story. To be honest, it really is difficult to choose a favourite as every story was fantastic in its own way – from the writing style, witty dialogue to even the plot or diverse themes represented. As this was an anthology, I decided to be different and not read this in chronological order. I read each story randomly and “tabbed off” each story until I finished (pictured below). I really enjoyed it as I would reward myself each night with a short story after work. It was easy to immerse myself in each one and also got closure at the end of each short story. Some stories I refused to read at night time (lol) some I could related to the character either due to personality or cultural background. This YA Anthology was such a great idea!! I really did love how unique and diverse the stories are and I highly recommend this to all YA fans.
-Annie

   this is how I ‘tabbed off’ each story

Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending us a review copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

#LoveOzYA