The Boy Made of Snow

The Boy Made of SnowAuthor: Chloe Mayer

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 14 November 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Professional Reader

‘I looked at the sunbeams, hoping to see the constellations inside them, but there was nothing there but dust in the air.’

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

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Bayou Born

Author: Hailey EdwardsBayou Born

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 31 October 2017

Rating: 4 stars

Professional Reader

‘The urge to pat him came out of nowhere. One did not pat grown men in praise for learning a new trick.’

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

This book is a mystery, thriller all wrapped up in an urban fantasy bow. Bayou Born follows the story of strange wild child who was found in the swampy bayou of Canton, Mississippi. She had no memories, no family and is covered in mysterious markings; swirls of metal bands embedded into her skin. The policeman, Edward Boudreau, who rescued her, adopts her. 15 years later Luce follows in the footsteps of her beloved father and joins the police force determined to prove her worth and distance herself from her controversial past.

Luce and her partner, Rixton, are working on finding missing girl, Angel Claremont, when there’s a call about a body in the swamp. On arrival they discover this isn’t the girl they were looking for because of the strange markings on her skin. Markings that match Luce’s own. A freelance security group called The White Horse show up on the scene to help. They’ve been hired by Angel’s parents to help with the rescue effort. The security group stays to help fish out the unconscious Jane Doe. Hope blooms within Luce. Maybe this is her chance to find out about her past, a chance to learn about her markings and her family. From here the story unfolds with Luce trying to find the missing girl and helping Jane Doe. However, there’s more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one – including Luce herself – could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny.

This was a fantastic start to a new series. The world building was amazing. I really enjoyed that we got to spend time with Luce and get to know the cases she’s working on before the fantastical elements kicked in. It was like the more Luce unraveled in the case the more it became obvious that it wasn’t the work of a regular person. The magic elements went in a direction that I did not expect but I super glad they did. I haven’t read many books like it.

I love seeing the relationship Luce had formed and how different they were. I also adore that a female friendship, between Luce and schoolteacher, Maggie, was at the heart of this novel. These relationships are hugely important to see especially given the bullying and ostracised nature of how the other people in Canton treat her.

Luce herself is a well-crafted character. Yes she is snarky and gives off a vibe of apathy but that’s not all. We see just how much she does care through her relentless word effort. She wants to fit it so much, despite what she may say, that she join a career where the staff take care of one another. Her humor is darkly funny and at time self-deprecating which again is another layer to keep her from being venerable. I found her highly relatable.

I cannot wait for the second book! So many questions left unsaid. Highly recommend for any urban fantasy fan out there.

October 2017 Wrap Up

Hello!

I am here with my October 2017 Wrap Up! These are the book I read in October, I kinda failed on the horror, spooky reading but hey Halloween is every day so I’ll get to all those spooky books sometime.

I read a total of 11 books which was way more than I thought. I read 1 Poetry Collection, 1 Middle Grade, 1 Historical Fiction, 1 Horror and 7 Fantasy.

Onto the ratings!

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Dust of Many

Dust Of Many Cover Front

Author: Brian M. Oldham
Published: December 2017
Rating: 4 stars

‘My hopes are my own,” she replied, squeezing Minia’s hand. “No one owns my dreams.”

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

The Sarpathian people are under rule of a barbaric nation after the catastrophic defeat on the pains of Godsfeld. Their emperor, Leo Dillianos of the House of Lily was dethroned and sent to live out the rest of his days in exile; his heir, Serilla, taking in by their enemy; and the surviving soldier’s, like Ward Captain Hyde, lock in chains and sold as slaves. In the three years since that battle a revolution has been bubbling and is about ready to attack. Forgotten by myth and memory a long burnished power begins its ascension — a power that may redeem or end the world once and for all. Will the Sarpathian Empire survive or crumbling into the history books?

I picked this book up because I really loved the sound of the premise, however struggled a little with it at the start. This is because I haven’t read much traditional style, epic fantasy so this was new to me and took a bit of a learning curve. Overall it was Serilla’s character and the world that peaked my interest and kept me reading, which I’m so glad I did.

The book is split into four perspectives— exiled Emperor Leo Dillianos, Leo’s daughter and empress to be Serilla Dillianos, the traitorous, smoothing talking Tarjun and Sarpathian Ward Captain Hyde. Not all characters get an equal amount of chapters, in fact I’d say the two main protagonist are Serilla and Hyde.

We see every little of this world, but the little we see I’m already in love with. We see the castle of Sarpathia and the ruins of the city. We also get to experience the shocking hardships of the mines and gladiatorial arenas all covered in gritty sand and blistering heat. The magic in this world is quite subtle so far and I’m looking forward to seeing which direction Oldhamn takes it.

Overall this is a pretty great start to a new series! I have so many questions and I need to know the answers. Highly recommend if you’re interested in epic fantasy.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Author: Jessica TownsendThe Trials of Morrigan Crow

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books Australia

Published: 10 October 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Professional Reader

‘A tornado of questions swirled in her head, and all she could do was try to grab them as they flew by.’

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

Miss Morrigan Crow has known since she was born that she will die on Eventide. Although she is the daughter of the distinguished Chancellor Corvus Crow the people of Jackalfax, her family included, will not mourn her passing. Morrigan is wonderful and whimsical eleven-year-old girl, who is desperate to find family and appreciation, all the while resigned to accept the responsibility for all bad luck that plagues Jackalfax. This is the dark reality of being a cursed child. On the eve of Eventide Morrigan receives an invitation to the Wundrous Society sponsored by a man named Jupiter North. Survival and Nevermoor await her.

Morrigan Crow is a fantastic character. She finds herself as the blame of all kinds of disasters from a burnt batch of jam to a boy losing the spelling bee to the Crow’s gardener’s heart attack. But thanks to Jupiter she finds herself living in a hotel that adapts to its guests’ needs and mingles with a cast of crazy characters. She finds out that for her to stay in this wonderful world she must get into The Wundrous Society and in turn face four trails which aren’t what they seem.

This is why I love middle-grade fantasy. I flew through this. It was so much fun and at times suspenseful. There something about this genre that allows the worlds to be innovative, creative and refreshing. Cursed children, brolly rails, secret societies, giant talking cats, magic trails and my new favourite holiday, Hallowmas. Townsend has mixed the whimsy of worlds like Wonderland and Whoville with the dark humour of Lemony Snicket. The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a wondrous adventure, which will ignite the imagination of any reader.

Townsend hasn’t only created a relatable protagonist and an amazingly creative world; she also created a cast of amazing secondary characters. These characters are all well rounded and aren’t just there as props to support Morrigan. Jupiter North is really the child at the heart of this story. He is a mysterious man who is an explorer, hotel proprietor, member of the Wundrous Society and Morrigan’s Patron and guardian. I adore Morrigan and Jupiter’s friendship, mostly how the roles seem reversed with Morrigan being the reserved and sensible one. Along with Jupiter, we have, Fenestra the talking Magnificat, Jupiter’s broody nephew, Jack, a vampire dwarf, an opera singer whose voice summons woodland critters and Hawthorne, Morrigan friend and fellow competitor in the Wundrous Society trials. I adore all these characters and they have—Hawthorne and Jupiter especially—become some of my all-time favourite characters.

I have a feeling this book is going to create a new generation of readers much like Harry Potter did when I was a kid. Please, pretty please can we have some kind of TV or film adaptation! I need to see Nevermoor in Technicolor! All I can say is it’s going to be a long wait for the squeal and my Wundrous Society Invitation.

The Last Namsara

Author: Kristen CiccarelliThe Last Namsara

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 3 October 2017

Rating: 4 stars

Professional Reader

‘Asha lured the dragon with a story.’

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

This book reaffirms my love of YA fantasy and my love of dragons. The world Ciccarelli has created is new and exciting. I adore the idea of telling stories to dragons and having the dragons tell you stories in return. I highly recommend!

Our protagonist, Asha is a dragon slayer and she wants to destroy them all. This is her amends for telling stories as a child and causing a dragon named, Kuzo, to burn down Firgaard. If she kills Kuzo and gives his head to her father she will fulfill her task and bring an end to the Old Ways. But more importantly, if she can kill Kuzo she won’t have to marry Jarek.

Sure we’ve seen the whole princess wants to terminate her arranged marriage. But it’s not often you see the princess than falls in love with a slave. I will point out that the slave, Torwin, was never her slave but her betrothed’s. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold. It was a slow burn, which was believable. Asha is a girl who has been told her whole life of cautionary tales of what happens to people who fall in love with slaves and that they are not like her. She spends most of the narrative fighting against the romance. She struggles with these beliefs but in the end, Torwin proves to be loyal and treats her like no one else does.

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Asha. We see that she is the best dragon slayer but the reason she is the best is that she breaks the law and tells old stories to lure them. She comes across as arrogant, entitled and more than a little dangerous—the perfect mix for an unlikable character. But, as the narrative unfolds, it’s as though she starts to trust the reader and shows us who she is beneath the dragon slayer exterior.

The dragons are not just sprinkled in there as standard fantasy elements. They are just as dangerous, threatening and intelligent as Asha. When they aren’t fighting for survival you see a side of them that’s curious and protective which reminds me of Toothless or Saphira.

I adore the way Ciccarelli weaves in the stories of this world. After a chapter, there might be a story told in fairy tale tradition. The story will be the one Asha tells within that previous section. This is an amazing idea. We get the story without it clogging up the pace of the action scenes.

While I adore the world and the dragons, I would say that it does feel like a debut and the plot feels predictable. However, since I was so captivated by the world, the predictable plot didn’t affect my enjoyment of reading this book.

Similarly, the secondary characters are only there to further Asha’s narrative arc. I don’t feel like I know them. Her brother, while mentioned multiple times he only appears when she’s in trouble. Her cousin, Safire, exists only as a hurdle to Asha’s task and to show her humanity. Everything that happens to Safire is done as a way to keep Asha in line. I would love to see these characters become more fleshed out in the rest of this series.

Overall this is a pretty fantastic start to a new series! I adore Asha and Torwin! The world is amazing—Arabian inspired, dragons, and storytelling. Who could ask for more? All I can say is that it’s going to be a long wait for the squeal!

Canary Club

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 4.15.13 pmAuthor: Sherry D. Ficklin

Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing

Published: 19 October 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Professional Reader

‘When life makes you a criminal, only love can set you free.’

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.

I didn’t read any of the novellas before reading Canary Club, but I don’t think you need to. Canary Club is set in the late 1920s New York and follows the lives of two characters, Benny and Masie in alternating POV chapters.

This book was everything I love about YA and Historical Fiction — life-like setting and swoon worthy romance. The 20s is one of my favourite eras to read about and Ficklin nailed it. I felt like I had been sucked into the era from the first page. She weaves in slang with ease; it never felt off-putting or unnatural for any of the characters. The romance was a slow burn, which I adored. I also enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold from both Benny and Masie’s POVs.

Benny and Masie have definitely become two of my favourite characters. I feel like I know them, that I could head down to a club and have dinner with them. In fact, all of the Canary Club gang feel real. Their speech, action and motivations are believable and a reality for this era.

Masie is a strong character throughout the book when see her fight for independence. She’s constantly rebelling against her father and society. She’s the daughter to one the city’s rising crime bosses. Her father keeps her and her brother, JD, under his control as he builds his empire. But Masie doesn’t want to live life on her father’s terms. She has dreams of Ivy League Colleges, faraway places and security. But can she find the strength to leave her family and do what she wants?

I adore Benny. We meet him as he’s let out of jail and on his way to his family, Mum and younger siblings. He is sweet and will do whatever it takes to keep his family fed and healthy. But he has a habit of always winding up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Quickly his luck lands him in the ranks of Dutch Shultz’s gang. This would’ve been a reality for many people at the time. You see the struggle they would’ve gone through. The only work they can find is running liquor to the speakeasies. It’s dangerous but it also pays better than anything else. Luck, drama, love and setbacks are thrown at Benny but never gives up.

I will be pre-ordering a physical copy. This is one of my favourite books of the year. Please grab a copy! Canary Club it’s stunning. It will suck you in, play with your heart and spit you out the other end. I highly recommend!