Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review: Gifted Thief (Highland Magic #1) by Helen Harper

Gifted Thief by Helen   Harper
Gifted Thief

Author: Helen Harper
Series: Highland Magic
Pages: 348
Publisher: Createspace
Release date: 29th January 2016
Source: Amazon

Synopsis (Goodreads) Orphan. Runaway. Thief.


Since the moment I was ripped from my mother's womb, I've been an outcast amongst my own kind. The Sidhe might possess magical Gifts, unbelievable wealth and unfathomable power but I don't want a thing to do with them. I ran away from their lands in the Highlands of Scotland when I was eleven years old and I've never looked back. I don't need a Clan. I've got my own family of highly skilled thieves who mean more to me than any Sidhe ever could.



Unfortunately for me, the playboy heir to the Moncrieffe Clan has something I desperately need. To get it back, I'm going to have to plunge myself back into that world, no matter what the consequences may be. I suppose it's just as well I have sense of humour. I think I'm going to need it.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

I stumbled on Gifted Thief whilst browsing through Amazon, I have never read anything prior by Helen Harper but everything has ticked my boxes so far, except the romance but I am hoping that improves as the series progresses.

Our MC is Integrity, a Sidhe who fled the highlands of Scotland and a life of hell when she was eleven years old. She has lived as a human and has abandoned her heritage and former life to become a skilled thief. Unfortunately, when a job goes wrong Integrity is forced to deal with her past and involve herself with the Sidhe in order to save her friends.

Integrity is the sort of character I adore! Witty, strong and fiercely independent; she looks after herself without needing to rely on anyone. She has a close group of friends, Speck, Brochan, Lexie and Taylor that she considers her family and who also have her back. She wasn’t a fighter, she abhors violence but she seemed to be able to talk her way out of any situation, she was treated terribly by many but she always stood strong, I also found her jokes really amusing and lightened the storyline.

Byron Moncrieff has a reputation as a player, he is well respected amongst the Sidhe but he holds a lot back. Integrity has had a crush on him for some time but I found him to be a bit sly initially; as the book progressed I liked him a little more but I still can’t fully trust his motives especially since he is the reason Integrity is now having to play nice with people that despise her existence,

The world building was done well but I would have like further clarification on the clans, clanless and humans and how they each live side by side peacefully; the setting was also lacking in imagery for me. The plot flowed at a decent pace; I enjoyed Integrity’s family backstory, she is the last member of the Adair clan; her father wiping out everyone and more or less erasing them from the history books but as Integrity finds out there is more to the story than what people are letting on,  there is deceit, mystery and some pretty huge secrets being kept; there is also magical gifts and a prophecy that we are yet to learn more about.

The romance or possibility of a romance was a letdown, there was chemistry between Integrity and Byron but she fell between the sheets so willy nilly with his friend which didn’t make sense, it was a sex scene that I feel was included just so that it was there.  I’m not quite sure if they will end up together, especially since Byron is meant to be with someone else for family reasons but I hope if they do it is done tastefully.

I can’t fail to mention Bob the Genie who is now with Integrity until she makes her three wishes; he is hilarious! I love his page time.

Gifted Thief is a nice start to the Highland Magic series, it is an Urban Fantasy that ticked most boxes for me but could have done with a little more editing, there were a number of mistakes but nothing that couldn’t be overlooked. I’m looking forward to learning more about Clan Adair and the fascinating characters in the next book, Honour Bound.



Helen   HarperAbout the author: Scottish native Helen Harper is the author of the hugely popular Blood Destiny series, as well as the gritty urban fantasy Bo Blackman books and the romantic Olympiana novels. A self-confessed cat lady with an over-active imagination, she spends her time lost in fantastical worlds filled with kickass heroines, intricate legends and lots and lots of dangerous excitement.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade, #3)Bright Blaze of Magic

Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade
Pages: 368
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: 26th April 2016
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: The characters are as fantastic as Estep fans have come to expect." – RT Book Reviews

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls. 

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side… 

"An adventurous ride you will never want to get off." --#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout on Cold Burn of Magic

Review: 5 out of 5 stars

Bright Blaze of Magic is the final instalment in the Black Blade trilogy and was a riveting, engrossing addition to what has been a wonderful series.

These books need to be read in order, the events that take place and the build-up are all pivotal in getting to this point. In this instalment we see Claudia Sinclair, the head of the family working with her son Devon, the family bruiser, Felix and Lila Merriweather as well as Draconi’s daughter Deah to attempt to foil Victor’s plan in taking over Cloudburst Falls and eliminating all families in order to lead. A lot has happened to get to this point and the action and thrills kept it all extremely entertaining.

Lila continues to be a fantastic heroine, she doesn’t sit on the sidelines, she is in on all the plotting, planning and the action; she is resourceful, skilful yet still sweet and has fit into the Sinclair family beautifully, I admired her character. Devon was the sweetest; I loved his interactions with Lila and his loyalty to his whole family. All of the secondary characters played an important role in this book; I didn’t fully trust Deah in the last instalment so I was pleasantly surprised by how everything worked out with her.

The romance in this series has been drama free and is slow to build, it isn’t at the forefront of the story but it is sweet and enjoyable.

We are finally given the much needed answers about Lila’s mother and Victor’s purpose. The magical world Estep has created is complex and filled with a variety of unusual paranormal creatures which I have really appreciated and her writing continues to hold me captivated, she surprises me with enthralling plot twists and developments, just as I think the families could take a breather something would always pop up. The battle scenes were brutal and filled with surprises and I liked the good vs evil elements.

Bright Blaze of Magic is a thrilling, action-packed and satisfying conclusion to the Black Blades trilogy.


Thank you to Kensington via Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review Bright Blaze of Magic.


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About the author: Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN SERIES
Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. 

The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

BLACK BLADE YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY SERIES
Jennifer is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series. 

The series focuses on Lila Merriweather, a 17-year-old thief who lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, a town dubbed “the most magical place in America.” Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper crushers, and more in their natural habitats.

Lila does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families — or mobs — who control the town. But when she saves a member of the powerful Sinclair Family, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing war between the Sinclairs and the Draconis, the most powerful Family in town. 

MYTHOS ACADEMY YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY SERIES
Jennifer is also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. 

The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

BIGTIME PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES
Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. 

The Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.

VISIT JENNIFER'S WEBSITE
Excerpts, free short stories, and more information on Jennifer's books can be found at http://www.jenniferestep.com.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Review: The Outliers by Kimberley McCreight

The OutliersThe Outliers

Author: Kimberley McCreight
Series: The Outliers #1
Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Release date: 3rd May 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads) It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything. 

Review: 3 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I do enjoy a good YA mystery so The Outliers sounded right up my alley but by the end I was still a bit baffled by it all – I’m not even sure this review is going to make sense because my thoughts are still all over the place.

Sixteen year old Wylie lives in Boston with her father and brother Gideon, since the death of her mother four months prior her anxiety has spiked and she has become agoraphobic, not leaving the house or keeping in touch with her friends.

When her former best friend Cassie goes missing and she receives a text ‘Please, Wylie, I need your help’ it’s enough to get her out of the house despite not having contact with her for quite some time or knowing where her current head space was. Helping Wylie solve the cryptic messages that she is receiving is Jasper, the guy Wylie blames for sending Cassie over the edge.

Wylie and Jasper more or less end up on a road trip in the middle of nowhere to find Cassie but things get crazier and crazier as they progress, to be honest I had no idea what was going on or who could be trusted. It baffled me why Wylie would just jump up and seek out Cassie with her current problems without notifying someone, especially her over-protective father who she knew would end up in a panic.

The mystery and suspense about what had happened to Cassie kept me reading along but there were a number of times where I almost gave up. There were a few revelations towards the end and it went from being what I thought was a thriller, mystery and then did a genre jump and I’m not quite sure that I am completely satisfied with how it all came together.

The plot seemed to be a mix of random events and unlikely situations and the ending was left open but I’m pretty certain I’ll be reading the sequel just to see what happens.

The Outliers certainly takes you on a mysterious thrill ride; it is well written but did leave me very confused by the end, despite the confusion it was still an addictive read needing to know what on earth was going on.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review The Outliers by Kimberley McCreight.



Kimberly McCreightAbout the author: Kimberly McCreight is the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, which was nominated for an Edgar, Anthony and Alex award. She attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and at kimberlymccreight.com

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Review: Night Speed by Chris Howard

Night SpeedNight Speed

Author: Chris Howard
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 416
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: 3rd May 2016

Synopsis: (Goodreads) : Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like the breakneck who nearly killed her kid brother.

On tetra, Alana is unstoppable. The rush makes her an explosive blur as she surges through New York City, battling to bring down breaknecks before they leave more people dead or injured in their wake. But with the clock ticking down to her eighteenth birthday, Alana will soon be too old for the rush...when just one more dose will prove deadly.

Supported only by her strong and steady handler, Tucker, Alana goes undercover, infiltrating an elite gang of breaknecks to stop the supply of their drug. But when Alana gets trapped on the wrong side of the law, she learns the breaknecks are not quite what they seem—especially Ethan, the artistic boy whose bottomless brown eyes seem to see the truth inside her. With her own dependency on tetra increasing, Alana must decide where her loyalties lie before the rush ends. Forever.
 

Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I was really intrigued by Night Speed by Chris Howard when I first read the synopsis, it sounded unique and thrilling and thankfully it was a book that I really enjoyed despite a few minor issues.

Our MC is seventeen year-old Alana West who has been trained to use a drug called tetra which gives a nine minute rush to pursue criminals who abuse its power, she is good at what she does but knows her time using the drug is coming to an end.

Alana started using tetra in an effort to fight the breaknecks that use the high speed rush to fuel their crimes and their getaways. But when she is blamed for a breaknecks death, she goes undercover to take down the source within the organisation. She is also on a bit of a revenge mission to find the person responsible for nearly killing her little brother.

Alana was an interesting character; she is constantly desperate for her next fix and her thought process was conflicted on numerous occasions which highlighted her addiction, you could also feel her emotional struggles especially when it came to her brother.

There is a snippet of romance but it isn’t at the forefront of the story, I wasn’t 100% sure who her real affections were with, her handler Tucker or a breakneck who she befriends, Ethan.

Night Speed takes you on a thrill-ride; it is fast paced and gives us enough information without overwhelming us. A lot of important subject matters are touched upon in this book; drug use and addiction, revenge, morals and consequences and I felt like they were dealt with well.

I liked the concept, it reminded me a little of Rush by Eve Silver, another series which I enjoyed. The main strengths of this book include an intriguing world, plenty of action, and entertaining writing that keeps you turning the pages – there were also a few twists that I definitely was expecting. The main weakness of this book were the confusing relationships, I was never quite sure who could be trusted. 

Night Speed is written well and is a fun, action packed story with an interesting cast of characters; a great setting and compelling plot.

Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for the opportunity to read and review Night Speed.



Chris   HowardAbout the author: (Goodreads) I'm the author of ROOTLESS(Scholastic), as well as the follow-up THE RIFT which isOUT NOW. The third book, THE RECKONING, will be out in early 2016 and then... NIGHT SPEED is out MAY 3rd, 2016, from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. I'm excited!! 
I live in Denver, but grew up not far from London. I studied natural resources in college, then spent seven years leading wilderness trips for high school students. I like to write more than anything else I've ever done, though reading is right up there, too.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

ARC Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined (Untitled, #1)Ruined

Author: Amy Tintera
Series: Unknown
Pages: 316
Publisher/Source: HarperTeen
Release date: 3rd May 2016

Synopsis: (Goodreads) Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of Amy Tintera’s debut series Reboot so I was eager to read Ruined which is the first book in her new YA high fantasy series.

Our MC is Emelina Flores who is from Ruina, she is a Ruined that has no powers but wields a sword with ease. On a quest for vengeance for the family that killed her parents and kidnapped her sister Olivia, she journeys to the kingdom of Lera in order to infiltrate the royal family and exact her revenge.

When Emelina, acting as Princess Mary Anselo of Vallos arrives the first task in her plan is to reluctantly marry Prince Casimir Gallegos as part of the treaty marriage, it’s the only way in which to salvage her kingdom but he is not what she was expecting and they come to share a sweet bond.

I really took a liking to the main characters; Emelina was strong, confident and determined to bring justice to her family no matter the cost. Cas was a little innocent, I didn’t see any real future king traits from him until towards the end of the book but I did like that he was logical, was kind and took care of Emelina/Mary. All of the side characters were written well and played a pivotal part in the overall story; my heart did break for Damian, I liked Galo, Aren and Iria, I didn’t trust Jovita at all and I am most curious about what has happened to Olivia.

The plot was interesting and flowed well but there were a few aspects I still questioned; I found parts of the background history especially about Ruina were lacking, I needed to know more about the world they were living in and also about the Ruined and their powers, but despite this it was thrilling with some fabulous and at time gruesome action sequences, I thought the way the planning and plotting took place and the key players in it was well done; I didn’t quite know who at times could be trusted and during some scenes things seemed a little rushed but I liked the revenge theme.

Amy Tintera’s writing is wonderful, her setting, the storyline and the characters all kept me entertained and wanting more. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Overall, if you are after a story filled with deceit, character progression, ongoing action, enjoyable writing and an intriguing plot then you would quite enjoy Ruined by Amy Tintera.


About the author: (From authors website)

Hi! I’m Amy Tintera, and I write novels for young adults. I grew up in Austin, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in journalism. After receiving a masters in film at Emerson College I moved to Los Angeles, where I promptly discovered I didn’t enjoy working in the film industry, and went back to my first love, writing.


REBOOT and REBEL are published by HarperCollins/HarperTeen.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Why the Young adult genre is frustrating me!


WHY YA IS FRUSTRATING ME!

You know, I read so many young adult books that I shouldn’t be surprised by the recurring storylines but I still find myself shaking my head on numerous occasions and just hoping for something new. I tried to mix up my reading a little recently after hitting a dreadful slump but I still went back to YA; which admittedly is my fave but I’d love to read something a little more fresh and unique.

The past few books that I have read seemed to all blend into one another because they were all so similar:

I’d love any recommendations if you have read something really amazingly awesome recently that stood out from everything else?

My gripes!

The ‘dreaded’ love-triangle * I think this point would be at the top of almost everyone’s list, it has been done to death unfortunately, I’m not a huge hater of love triangles if it is done right but to be honest, they rarely are and someone is always bound to end up hurt (& then they end up with a series of their own!). It also always seems to be the girl who gets two guys, I read a heap of YA novels and I have never read about two girls wanting the same guy?

The ‘necessary’ heart-ache or heart-break * Why oh why do authors find it necessary to cause unnecessary drama when it comes to a romance? Why can’t a couple have a relatively ‘normal’ relationship without the hidden problems that always pop up that seem to be thrown in for the shock factor alone but doesn’t actually contribute to the storyline?

The ‘special’ main character that has a hidden talent that they are completely clueless about * I have read quite a few books where the MC has no idea that they are ‘special’ or of another kind or species, I mean they know that there is something odd going on, wouldn’t you stop and panic just a little bit and worry about why you’re different. Clueless! It seems to be something that is all too common and the main character is always shocked but adjusts seemingly well into their new role of whatever it is they are.

The ‘absentee’ family * Why do a majority of characters have no parents present or they have left them or are deceased? I love reading books that have a strong family dynamic, where there are boundaries and realistic themes but it seems to be lacking in YA.


What are your thoughts on this subject?? Are there any gripes that annoy you in the YA genre?