Review: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

An exquisite, heartbreakingly beautiful gem of a novel for anyone who loved Wonder, Lenny’s Book of EverythingA Monster Calls or When You Reach Me.

‘Heart-twisting and hopeful, bursting with big feelings and gentle magic. This is a special book from a powerful, compassionate new voice in children’s literature, destined to be read and loved for generations and held close in many hearts (including mine).’ – Jessica Townsend, New York Times bestselling author of the Nevermoor series

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.

Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.

Published 4 May 2021 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  |  QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I can’t stop staring at that gorgeous cover! Combined with a magical title and a protagonist with a familiar name (a personal reference which I’ll leave just as vague) who had to face a new strange place, I couldn’t wait to dive in.

As an immigrant myself, I sort of knew what the protagonist was feeling as she first arrived in the New Land and yet, there are enough differences in our experiences that my heart broke for this brave girl. I did think that the author was a bit mean when a particular tragedy strike but life happens and despite my tears, I was glad that the tragedy did bring something good too. I loved Meixing and her friends as they each found their way to rise above their own problems.

To start with, it took a while to adjust my headspace to reading this book. Mostly due to the second person POV but also how places are just so very non-specific/neutral (eg. ‘New House’, ‘New Land’, etc). It is just different than the norm, I think, that I really needed to think differently. Other than that, it was done very well and I do feel very much like I’m stepping in Meixing’s shoes.

My boys and I adored Little Jiang which I read aloud as their bed time read and it was just such a fun read! Unfortunately, I was unable to read this aloud to my boys. I tried for a few nights but my youngest has this aversion against the second person POV. He is only 6 years old and this may have been the first time he came across a second person POV as this isn’t one you’d come across that often in books. He just didn’t feel that it’s right and he got so upset, I had to stop and finished reading on my own. I’ll make a note to try this on him again in a few years’ time!

Magic appears to be an indication of feels in this novel. Mostly it is of hope but at times, it also reflects despair. I do love magic in my books but I am sometimes stumped by magical realism which I feel is where this book leans towards. I’m happy to take the magic as is even as I feel that there is something else going on there.

A Glasshouse of Stars is a powerfully moving novel as readers are, perforce, within protagonist’s headspace and looking out through her eyes so we are privileged in knowing all her thoughts and feelings. Readers can expect to feel the wonder of the New House & Glasshouse, the fear of the unknown, the hope for the future, oh there were just so much! Do read this with your children and persist through the difference in narrative because it’s such a wonderful novel.

My thanks to Shirley Marr for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Shirley Marr is a first-generation Chinese-Australian living in Perth and an author of young adult and children’s fiction, including YA novels Fury and Preloved, and children’s novels Little Jiang and A Glasshouse of Stars. She describes herself as having a Western mind and an Eastern heart. She likes to write in the space in the middle where they both collide, basing her stories on her own personal experiences of migration and growing up in Australia, along with the folk and fairy tales from her mother. Arriving in mainland Australia from Christmas Island as a seven-year-old in the 1980s and experiencing the good, the bad and the wonder that comes with culture shock, Shirley has been in love with reading and writing from that early age. Shirley is a universe full of stars and stories and hopes to share the many other novels that she has inside her.

Find Shirley on:  

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Review: The Chase by Candice Fox

The Chase by Candice Fox

The new novel by New York Times #1 bestselling author Candice Fox is an electrifying cat-and-mouse thriller set in the Nevada desert.

Candice Fox has been described by the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘one of Australia’s finest new gen crime writers’ and her latest novel is another thrilling ride, as a mass prison breakout lets loose 650 of the country’s most dangerous prisoners.

‘Are you listening, Warden?’

‘What do you want?’

‘I want you to let them out.’

‘Which inmates are we talking about?’

‘All of them.

When more than 600 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins.

But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, five years after the murder of his wife and child.

He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing down the escapees.

Death row supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading . . .

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  |  QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I’m going to be upfront and state that this is so totally going to be a very bias review. I have read all of Candice Fox’s books and loved every one of them. I especially love the quirky Aussie flavour her books are steeped in. And yet, even as this one is far away from our shore (Nevada desert) and did not include any Aussie characters ):): it did not detract from my enjoyment of this novel. 

The book description described of a prison break (not one, not two, but ALL of the inmates) and the subsequent hunts to put them all where they belong. It is such intriguing & thrilling concept (even if a little bit outlandish) and the story did not disappoint. The Chase was a compelling read with a well-sustained suspense to pull the reader to continue reading right through to the end.

There is a large number of casts in this novel and while at first I struggled with the names and remembering who they are, a couple of the characters are very memorable and after a few chapters, I found that the flow of switches between characters to be quite smooth and easily followed. Add to this, there were twists and turns peppered throughout each chapter that keep readers flipping pages.

I do believe that Fox specialised in crushed down but loveable and strong female characters but in this particular novel I also feel that she’s got the creepy psycho vibes down pat. It’s hair raising stuff! I guess visiting serial killer on death row paid out! I was amazed by how many baddies in this story and each with his own brand of monstrosity; they are all so brilliantly crafted. 

The Chase is a fast-paced, high-octane thriller that you can’t help but want for more. I’d highly recommend that you have set aside hours to read this because it’s not one you’d want to stop even for a minute.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. Her subsequent novels – FallCrimson LakeRedemption Point and Gone by Midnight – were all shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number one on the New York Times bestseller list in the US, and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Their later novels – Fifty FiftyLiar LiarHush Hush and The Inn – have all been massive bestsellers across the world.

Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

Find Candice on:  

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Review: The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter

The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter

Hannibal meets Mistborn in Marina Lostetter’s THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, the dark and stunning first novel in a new trilogy that combines the intricate worldbuilding and rigorous magic system of the best of epic fantasy with a dark and chilling thriller.

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.

Published 13 April 2021|  Publisher: Tor Books  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

One of new release books that came highly recommended by author Sam Hawke at her book launch late last year was The Helm of Midnight. I can’t quite remember how she described it but it sounded so good that I just had to read it.

An engaging opening to the novel that draws the reader right into the mystery that was quickly followed by an interaction between sister to reveal just how close they are. I loved this pair of sisters! And that twist at the end was a marvel though I did think the way part of this is written is rather deceiving but that’s neither here nor there as I figured it out before the actual reveal. Unfortunately though this means that we really only get one sister as a fully developed character being Krona Hirvath, mainprotagonist.

In between Krona’s chapters, there are 2 other POVs as mystery traced back to 10 & 2 years previous so there was a bit of back & forth in time setting as well. While I sometimes struggle with too much changes of time setting, I didn’t with this book because it was very easy to note which POV and therefore, which time.

While I found the mystery brilliant and utterly immersive, I struggled a bit with this universe. I think I’m probably only about 80% in my understanding of how it all works or perhaps the point is that it’s not all been revealed yet because there is bigger things at play and so, upcoming sequel.

I cry so easily that I really think I need to rate my books by tears! Yes, I shed some tears at the end of this book but despite my heartache I’m keen to see how Krona will develop in the future plus I loved the fun flirting she had with her informant. The Helm of Midnight is rather dark in content but it is relatively on par with crime novels I read (seeing that a serial killer is involved). It has got some lighter & warm moments as foils to the violent murder scenes.

Thank you Tor Books via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as LightspeedUncanny, and Shimmer Magazine.  Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager.  Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

Review: You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

YA author Jenna Guillaume is back with a fun and modern feminist twist on the 1985 pop cult film Weird Science.

Sixteen-year-old Katie Camilleri can’t believe she’s accidentally created a teenage boy. A boy six-feet tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day. A boy whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime. A boy completely devoted to Katie. But silly musings and kitchen antics with her best friend, Libby, have definitely taken a whimsical twist into something bigger than Katie could have ever daydreamed. Turns out the consequences of fumbling a human being into existence are rather complicated. More importantly, does Guy, the golden Adonis Katie’s created, like her because he wants to, or because he has to? And will he be Katie’s very first kiss?

From the author of What I Like About Me comes a hilarious feminist twist on a classic narrative, loaded with laughs, mishaps, and plenty of 80s and 90s pop-culture callbacks. Jenna Guillaume’s entertaining romantic comedy novel features a humorous and relatable voice and will appeal to fans of Jenny Han.

Published (ed) 1 April 2021|  Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

Being Australian, I have been aware of this author for a few years and of this book, sometime in 2020 (noting Australian publishing date was August 2020). For some reason, however, I never thought to add this to my TBR as it just didn’t seem to be my kind of read. I do love this cover though and as it popped up as a ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley, I just had to click that button, don’t I…

I have to admit that I jumped into the novel not knowing exactly what I’m in for. At the start, this novel was quite fascinating where two teenage girls ‘made’ a perfect boy out of clay to meet the dreams of the main protagonist. The story is easy to read and I do love the growth of characters but the structure of the telling bothered me so I didn’t particularly enjoy the read.

We have Katie Camilleri, the protagonist, who is writing this story down while her best friend, Libby, is standing over her shoulder, reading & interrupting with certain inputs of when to fast forward the story and what’s to include in the story. At first, I really liked Libby’s comments (snarkiness between BFFs are to be appreciated) but about halfway, I just found it disruptive and annoying. So, I guess, this structure didn’t quite work for me.

Thank you Peachtree Publishing Company via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.

Lori Smyth-Owen isn’t your average teenager – as you’d expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother’s food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$14.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  |  QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Joy Dettman is a well-known Aussie author but I’ve yet to read any of her books until this one. A few are on my TBR but I guess they’re not my particular comfort reads so they keep getting pushed back. As this was a review copy courtesy of the publisher, I pushed myself a little to reading this. I must admit that I wasn’t particularly keen on cover nor description but once I started, it was pretty easy to keep going. Noting my reading mood this year, the fact I managed to finish the book speaks well of its readability.

The Hope Flower is told from the perspective of a 15 year old girl, Lori Smyth-Owen. The only girl of 12 children and currently, she rules the roost. The house is a busy one (even as their mother does nothing all day) but routine is well regimented and chores shared all around. This time, Eddy came up with another scheme to get their mother to shape up. When she did shape up, however, the only to benefit was herself but she did go out in style.

While the story is actually quite sad and heartbreaking (how can your heart not hurt for these neglected children?!), I didn’t find the read depressing. Lori is one feisty character; full of gumption and yet, beneath all that hard rock is a soft spot where seedling of hope is still being kept alive. All these children are such amazing characters; resilient and resourceful! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any adult characters here.

I just found that The Hope Flower is not the first book by this author to feature Lori but I don’t think I can go back to read the other one, Henry’s Daughter. I can’t tell you if you’d miss anything if you read this without reading the earlier one because this truly reads like a stand-alone for me. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed reading The Hope Flower as it has definitely exceeded any expectations I had for it.

My thanks to MacMillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Joy Dettman sees herself as a wife, mother and grandmother, who steals time from her family to satisfy her obsessive need to write.

Joy was not always a wife, mother and grandmother. She can recall her early obsession with newspaper cartoons. They were her picture books. A newspaper shoutline allowed her to break the code of reading prior to entering a school room, thus addicting her for life to the printed word.

Joy’s early draft of Woody Creek, single spaced, margin to margin, messy, was typed on the family room table, where in 1986-7, she wrote Mallawindy. Her number one fan, her little sister, read it, and for the next ten years, publication became their joint obsession.

In 1997, she received a phone call from Pan Macmillan. Mallawindy was accepted for publication and by ’98 Joy and her number one fan held that book in their hands.

Review: Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

I stumbled towards the Meat House, my body shaking with the violence that raged within me, as the realisation of the mistake I had made in coming here rose to the surface of my mind. This was the last place I should be. That thought was crossed by another, even more terrifying.

This is exactly where I belong.

Asa’s running from a troubled past. To a remote outback town, a disappointing father and a fresh start that’s already souring.

But then the notorious Dirt Circus League arrives. A troupe of outcast teens performing spectacular fight sequences and challenging any who dares to take part.

They’re ruthless. Menacing. Thrilling. And led by the magnetic Quarter. He’s dark, powerful and intensely attractive—and he faces a threat only Asa can see.

Will Asa be drawn into the league’s mysterious community?

And, as she discovers the violent secrets at its heart, will she delve into her own untapped abilities to save herself—and heal those caught in its evil web?

Dirt Circus League is a compelling and fast-paced novel about the powerful allure of danger and the battles we face with our demons in a world beyond our control.

Published 30 March 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

Such an eye-catching cover! That bright pink on background of pure black with title in eye-popping neon yellow; overall, one of the best covers I’ve ever seen. And when you add the word ‘circus’ to the title, I’m a goner. I have to read this book!

Going by the book description, this book could be contemporary or it could be fantasy. Truthfully, I’m finding it hard to place this book in a certain category but I think I’d actually place it as magical realism which is a bit hit and miss for me so unfortunately, this book was closer to a miss.

The setting is a fictional outback town of Australia (possibly in QLD) and it is set in the present time. Asa, the protagonist, is running away from a mother who does not care for her but also of her grief and anger at losing her grandmother who loved her. She came across the Dirt Circus League, became fascinated by the violence, and decided that it may be a good space for her and her anger. What she found at their headquarters, however, was beyond even her imagining and Asa had to decide whether to give in to her anger or accept herself and become better.

As you’d know, magical realism is usually full of strange and at times, wonderful things. In this novel, though, it mostly strange, violent, and more violence. Language wise, I found the novel easy to read and Asa is a pretty easy protag to like despite her anger issues but yet, that’s understandable and she came out strong in the end. I just couldn’t appreciate all the imagery so this is all on me.

Thank you Text Publishing via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

Review: Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellmaker (Spellbreaker Duology #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Dead wizards, stolen enchantments, and broken promises force a young spellbreaker out of the shadows in the next thrilling installment of the Spellbreaker series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.

Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal—if she can find them.

With hundreds of stolen spells at their disposal, the villain has a plan—and it involves seducing Elsie to the dark side. But even now that her secret is out, Elsie must be careful how she uses the new abilities she’s discovering, or she may play right into the criminal’s hands.

Published 9 March 2021|  Publisher: 47North  |  RRP: AUD$24.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Let’s face it, I’m just a sucker for beautiful covers so authors & publishers, it’s totally worthwhile to invest in eye catching covers. I’ve also loved the first book of this duology, Spellbreaker, so I really needed the closure both in the mystery and the romance. Spellmaker did not disappoint!

Spellmaker opens a few weeks after the end of Spellbreaker and Elsie is back at home with Ogden, working and her usual routine except of course, no secret messages/missions this time around. However, the villain who murdered master spellmakers & stole their opuses are still on the loose and isn’t willing to let Elsie go. First, Elsie is arrested by the authorities and only by Master Bacchus Kelsey’s wily petition that she’s freed. Then as attacks on master spellmakers are still happening, Elsie needs to see this stopped and to close this particular past of hers.

This alternate universe of Victorian England truly fascinates me and I’m so particularly drawn by Kelsey’s background (a bastard son of an English lord with a Barbados maid). While the romance and the mystery take the main stage, I appreciated the author’s seemingly effortless insertion of Kelsey’s struggle as a person who is not completely accepted into English society.

it is easy to miss the pain of being different when you fit in so well with the standard

I’m very happy with the way this book ends; the mystery was well done and the romance was well and truly in bloom. While readers mostly follow Elsie’s perspective, there were times where we are given Ogden’s & Kelsey’s but these happened without any warning of any sort so there were a number of times that I just had to re-read again because I just didn’t expect that and got rather confused. Aside from these unexpected jumps in povs, the story was well-paced and everything tied up very nicely at the end. You do need to read Spellbreaker first though before you tackle this one but I’d recommend this duology as a totally fun read.

Thank you 47North via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram  |  facebook

 

Review: The Gaps by Leanne Hall

The Gaps by Leanne Hall

When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through the whole Year Ten class at Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller.

Everyone is affected by Yin’s disappearance—even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral dramas, is drawn into the maelstrom. And when she begins to form an uneasy alliance with Natalia, the queen of Year Ten, things get even more complicated.

A tribute to friendship in all its guises, The Gaps is a moving examination of vulnerability and strength, safety and danger, and the particular uncertainties young women face in the world.

Published 2 March 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Fabulous cover and I am familiar with author’s name even if I’ve not previously read her books. While I do read some contemporary YA, it’s not my preferred genre but I think I was slightly misled by the description of this book which makes me think that there’d be some mystery solving duo. It’s my own fault though for reading into it the way I wanted to rather than what it actually says. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading; identified with some characters, shed some tears, and bowled over by the powerful emotions emanating from each protags.

There are 2 POVs in this story: Chloe who comes into Balmoral Ladies College on scholarship in Yr 10 and Natalia, the queen of Yr 10. While Chloe struggles to adjust herself to her new environment where not only is she demographically different but where most of these girls have known each other from primary school, Natalia appears to be in control of everything around her but internally she’s ready to combust. When Yin Mitchell, a Yr 10 student at Balmoral, disappeared, Natalia’s tight control over her thoughts and feelings begins to unspool.

What hit me most in this novel is the myriad of feelings; of confusion, grief, rage, hopelessness. They were so powerful, it was nearly overwhelming. Maybe I’ve also forgotten what it’s like to be a teen though I’ve never had an issue like this (a kidnapped friend). Yet amongst this anger against an unfair world, lives keep on rolling forward and whether you’d want to or not, you are swept along. Both Chloe & Natalia along with a number of secondary characters have grown leaps & bound throughout this novel and certainly in a very good way so I guess that’s an excellent ending for the novel. I’m left with a teeny bit of unresolved disappointment but I don’t want to spoil anyone so I’ll leave that one as vague as it is.

Thank you Text Publishing via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

 

Review: Of Wicked Blood by Olivia Wildenstein & Katie Hayoz

Of Wicked Blood (The Quatrefoil Chronicles #1) by Olivia Wildenstein & Katie Hayoz

NO REST FOR THE WICKED . . . OR THE CURSED.

SLATE
I didn’t mean to steal the Bloodstone from the De Morel’s crypt.
Scratch that, I did mean to steal it.
Until I realized it was a curse-magnet that only comes off if I, along with a jolly trio, successfully defeat four curses. If any of us fail, I’m dead. I’ve never been a glass half-empty sort of person, but my glass looks in dire need of a refill right about now.
The only highlight of this wicked treasure hunt: feisty, entitled Cadence de Morel.

CADENCE
I was raised on tales of magic, in a small town reputed to be the birthplace of French witchcraft.
Did I believe all the stories I heard? Absolutely not. I mean, if magic existed, Maman wouldn’t have died, and Papa wouldn’t be stuck in a wheelchair, right?
Wrong.
The night Slate Ardoin waltzes into my life, wearing a ring he stole from my mother’s grave, I call him a monster. But then I meet real ones, and Slate, well . . . he becomes something else to me.
Something frustrating to live with but impossible to live without.
Something I will fight for, no matter the cost.

*Warning: profuse cursing (and not just the magical kind).

Published 2 February 2021|  Publisher: Twig Publishing

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

I must admit I do like that cover but not sure if I like the description enough to pick this up for a read. The main reason was that I was curious about netgalley app for audiobook and this one was the only ‘Listen Now’ that I found remotely interesting. So I decided to give this audiobook a listen.

There are 2 POVs as noted in the book description, Slate & Cadence. I think it’s also obvious from the description that these 2 are going to butt heads in more than 1 way. Whilst I do like their characters (they are easily likeable), the back and forth in the romance was a little too much for me and then, there is that whiff/hint of a triangle. If you know me, you’d know this little bit would’ve been enough to turn me off. Sorry… this is not a book for me and this is all me. I did however liked the whole mystery & quest for the quatrefoil and there are hints of darker acts at the end of this audiobook. However, I’m not sure if I’m curious enough to follow up with the sequel.

With 2 POVs, there are 2 narrators. Whilst I liked both voices, I found their disparate pacing to be off putting. If you listen to a lot of audiobooks like I do, I think you’d know that you really do need that consistent pacing through one a book or you’d have to readjust your listening each time and that’s what I had to do for each alternate chapters. 

Oh, and that ‘profuse cursing’ warning is to be taken seriously. I would usually listen to my audiobooks in the car while driving my kids places and I really couldn’t with this audiobook; not even for the 5 minutes’ drive to school.

Thank you Twig Publishing via Netgalley for the audio copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

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Review: The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

They will dedicate their lives to their country, but no one will ever know…

A compelling story about tenacity and friendship, inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia’s top-secret Central Bureau in WWII. For readers who love Judy Nunn and Kate Quinn.

1943, Brisbane: The war continues to devastate and the battle for the Pacific threatens Australian shores. For Ellie O’Sullivan, helping the war effort means utilising her engineering skills for Qantas as they evacuate civilians and deliver supplies to armed forces overseas. Her exceptional logic and integrity attract the attention of Central Bureau – an intelligence organisation working with England’s Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining Central Bureau means signing a lifetime secrecy contract. Breaking it is treason.

With her country’s freedom at risk, Ellie works with a group of elite women who enter a world of volatile secrets; deciphering enemy communications to change the course of the war. Working under immense pressure, they form a close bond – yet there could be a traitor in their midst. Can the women uncover the culprit before it’s too late?

As Ellie struggles with the magnitude of the promise she’s made to her country, a wedge grows between her and those she holds dear. When the man she loves asks questions she’s forbidden to answer, how will she prevent the double life she’s leading from unravelling?

Published 3 March 2021 |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

464 pages and I read it in a single sitting. Well, practically a single sitting. I had to break to prep for dinner and be “present” at family dinner but other than that, I was basically not “present”. I met Alli for coffee when her last book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek (you should read this one too!), she was doing lots of researching for this book and I was so excited to hear about female Australian codebreakers! I’ve read a bit on Bletchley Park & some women codebreakers (also watched & loved that Netflix series, The Bletchley Circle) so this was a most anticipated release for me and I LOVED it!

‘So we cling to hope and stars?’

‘With all our might.’

There were just many things I loved about this novel. From a most inspiring protagonist to a swoony romance to the realisation of just how many women in the past have fought (and most, in silence) for us to be where we are today (and we are not done!).

The men suffer in silence, never ones to talk about the tragedies they’ve suffered. We women try to hold everyone up with our strength, until our knees shake and our arms threaten to drop the heavy load. But we do it. We carry everyone who needs support. We help the world right itself and nurture those who need it most. Women are incredible creatures; don’t you ever forget it. So, if you have the chance to do something you want, take it and don’t be apologetic. Women spend too much time bowing to society’s expectations instead of allowing ourselves to be who we truly are.

Set in 1940s Queensland, in the height of World War II and its immediate aftermath, we follow Elanora O’Sullivan as she served to end a war she did not believe in, found & lost friends and love, struggled to find her place in the world as a woman who knows she’s as good as the men around her.

The Codebreakers is a fictional tale inspired by just such intelligent, strong, and courageous women and such an empowering story! It’s ticked so many boxes and filled up my heart meter to the max. I cannot wait to see what Alli’s next book will be.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She is Australian and has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart. Alli hosts retreats for writers and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working in film on international projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

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