Category Archives: Young Adult

Blog Tour: Becoming Brooklyn by Amanda Deich – an excerpt

Becoming Brooklyn
Amanda Deich
Publication date: January 5th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Brooklyn never knew her father. Rex Blackburn died in the 9/11 attacks four months before she was born.

And even though she never met him, she always dreamed about what he must have been like before he died. In her mind, he was a hero.

Little did she know.

After an attack at a 9/11 memorial gala, Brooklyn learns her father had been a member of an elite, anti-terrorism, military task force, made up of a very select group of people who had superhuman abilities. On the day the towers fell, he died using his power to save people.

The Army believes she inherited his gift, and Brooklyn is invited to train at West Point in order to hone her skills. Knowing deep down she is different than anyone else her age and wanting to learn more about a father she never knew, she readily agrees to become a cadet at the prestigious military academy.

She and five other 9/11 babies strengthen their superhuman abilities and spend weeks preparing themselves for their future in the army, fighting terrorists at home and abroad. And in the process of training, they identify with their deceased parents in a way they never knew they could.

Brooklyn knows she’ll go to war someday, but when terrorists find out about the group’s gifts, they don’t bother to wait.

They bring the war to West Point.

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Excerpt

“Why do you need to talk to…just us?” Bree asked, her stare critical and questioning. “Why not all the 9/11 Babies?”

The general nodded, acknowledging the fairness of her question. “You would probably instinctively group yourself with the rest of the kids who had parents die in the attacks of 9/11. And while the entire group of 9/11 Babies have been branded heroes – appropriately, I might add – the six of you are different than the others who attended the dinner the other night.”

He brought his hands in front of him, clasped them together casually in front of his broad torso. “In fact, I’ve been assigned to talk with you all this evening regarding this difference. But before I begin, please know I am about to tell you something that is quite possibly the most sensitive, most valuable, most protected secret in our military today.”

My heart picked up speed. Suddenly I felt like I was sitting in the principal’s office, in trouble but not quite sure why.

“Sensitive, how?” Adrianna asked.

The general pursed his lips. “It may take a while to explain. If I may, I’m going to ask for your patience as I attempt to do so.” He walked slowly toward us, clicking a button to lower a white screen behind him. It hovered above the fireplace as if it were a painting.

“I was thinking about the best way to inform you on the topic, and I decided I should start with what you already know: what you see in the papers and what you’ve learned in History Class.”

Ugh. History Class.

The six of us took turns shooting uneasy glances to one another, and the general, like so many teachers, pressed on, despite our obvious lack of enthusiasm.

“Even before the terrorist attacks on 9/11,” he explained, “the United States of America was the world’s leader in stopping terrorism. We continue to fulfill this role today.”

As if to prove his point, the screen behind him exploded into pictures of ongoing warfare. Bombs, tanks, and horrific blasts filled the screen.

“Terrorists know no geographical boundaries,” he continued as the pictures ceased, “but neither do we, when it comes to humanitarian issues. When the U.S. was young, we were spoiled by our location. Oceans separated us from the rest of the world’s conflicts, so we were primarily concerned with our own. But after the atrocities of the Second World War were exposed, we knew we needed to make a global effort to combat the evil that existed outside our borders.”

“The way we did this was to develop our best, most gifted citizens. We identified them at a young age and used our training facilities to nurture their gifts, pushing them as hard as they could be pushed, and making sure those gifts weren’t wasted. Soon, we had enough of these gifted warriors to form an elite military group. Its earliest members named it The Crest.”

“And what does this have to do with us?” I asked. I mean, it was nice of him to give us a history lesson and all, but the anticipation of why we were meeting with a general was killing me.

“Patience, Brooklyn,” General Richards replied, his tone implying he was losing his own. “I promised I’d explain, and I’m about to.” He turned to address the whole group again.

“You are six of the so-called ‘9/11 Babies’,” he began. “But you are a special six. The hundreds of other 9/11 Babies lost their parents heroically on that horrible day, and you did, too. But your parents were more than heroes.”

He paused, making sure he had our undivided attention. We weren’t breathing; we couldn’t.

“You would probably think of them as superheroes, members of the very same group I described.”

His gaze intensified. “They were part of our most secret, gifted branch of the military: The Crest: Chosen, Rare, Elite… Superhuman and Triumphant.”

My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for having me on this tour

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About the authors

Amanda Deich is an author out of Littleton, CO. In her non-writer life, she is a teacher and coach to hundreds of kids, and she is a mama to two. If you meet her, she’ll talk Jesus and identity like no one’s business.

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Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout -a review

storm and furyStorm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the fantastical Dark Elements series comes a new novel set in a world of gargoyle protectors, rising demons and one girl with an explosive secret.

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens – gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again – but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

Published 17 June 2019|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Before I started reading this novel, I didn’t realise that this trilogy is actually a spin-off of author’s earlier trilogy, The Dark Elements, of which I’ve only read book 1. I’m not particularly fond of paranormal novels featuring angels and/or demons but what I found interesting in these trilogies are the twist on gargoyles being shape-shifter protectors of humankind. Oh, and of course, usually they’re pretty hot in human form 😜

In Storm and Fury, we meet Trinity. She’s rather special and have lived in a very protected & protective remote community of Wardens (what those gargoyle protectors are called). Her time of hiding is running out though as for somehow, someone found out and she is wanted for some nefarious reason or another. Her bonded guardian was kidnapped and she has to place her trust in another Warden from another clan, Zayne (him from The Dark Elements trilogy). Sparks flew, complications arose, twists abound, and a broken ending promising more doom in sequel.

I wasn’t really that keen on Trinity as a character to begin with but I do like Zayne very much 😬 Understandably, Trinity’s sheltered life made sure that she’s rather innocent and yet, this naivety sometimes makes me want to shake her. Zayne has his own set of baggage, if you’ve read The Dark Elements. Though if you’re like me, it’s not necessary to have read that earlier trilogy as whatever you need to know is told to you in this novel. This also means that I’ll probably never read the rest of The Dark Elements.

Storm and Fury is straight out YA paranormal romance. It’s fluff for a grey day with sparky snarky dialogs between romantic protags and a fast paced twisty plot that makes the day go quickly by.

About the author

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

The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock -a review

the other side of beautifulThe Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Lost & Found meets The Rosie Project in a stunning break-out novel where a vulnerable misfit is forced to re-engage with the world, despite her best efforts.

Meet Mercy Blain, whose house has just burnt down. Unfortunately for Mercy, this goes bey ond the disaster it would be for most people: she hasn’t been outside that house for two years now.

Flung out into the world she’s been studiously ignoring, Mercy goes to the only place she can. Her not-quite-ex-husband Eugene’s house. But it turns out she can’t stay there, either.

And so begins Mercy’s unwilling journey. After the chance purchase of a cult classic campervan (read tiny, old and smelly), with the company of her sausage dog, Wasabi, and a mysterious box of cremated remains, Mercy heads north from Adelaide to Darwin.

On the road, through badly timed breakdowns, gregarious troupes of grey nomads, and run-ins with a rogue adversary, Mercy’s carefully constructed walls start crumbling. But what was Mercy hiding from in her house? And why is Eugene desperate to have her back in the city? They say you can’t run forever…

Exquisite, tender and wry, this is a break-out novel about facing anxiety and embracing life from an extraordinary new talent.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

An adorably beautiful cover for an adorably beautiful novel. I always look forward to each new novel by Kim Lock because I know that I would love it. I always find myself smiling unconsciously when reading her books; I don’t know how she does it. That is not to say that her novels are happy or funny but that there are happy & funny moment in amongst the detritus that is life. Trust Kim to always get into the heart of things.

The novel opens as Mercy’s house is on fire and we meet Mercy as she stood in the middle of the street in her jammies. She was understandably confused and trying very hard to hang on to the last shred of her sanity. Her house, the only place she felt safe in, is burning down and she is forced to take her first step onto the street after 2 years of hiding. Then the only person she could turn to is her not-quite-ex-husband, Eugene, but he couldn’t shield her either. If she can’t hide, maybe she can run… and as fate has it, her mode of transport is right outside.

Bending over, she howled into her hands. She couldn’t take this anymore. She couldn’t take the feeling of her body in a constant state of anxiety, everything tensed like a rabbit awaiting a fox. Unrelenting guilt ate at her, acid sloshing her insides. The waiting, the endless waiting. For what?

I have no idea what panic attacks are like. I just know that they are supposed to be absolutely terrifyingly bad. From reading this novel, it does feel that author has done her work in research but this is a novel and should be read as such. Mercy’s journey as she faced down her troubles is heartachingly beautiful but again it is fiction and should not be used as basis of advice.

The world wasn’t safe. Nothing was safe; nowhere was safe. I couldn’t even human.

Mercy may have begun her journey with only the van and her faithful dachshund, Wasabi, but there was a community of travellers out there. I loved this community and especially Andy, being the one she opened up to & tell-all person. Their acceptance, non-judgemental, and generous attitude towards others and life is delightful; something for us all to emulate.

Be here now, and know that whatever now is, is transient.

I may have started reading The Other Side of Beautiful with a tiny bit of trepidation because her last novel, The Three of Us, was rather hard-hitting (I rated that one 5-stars too) and I’m really not in the mood for that sort of read. However, The Other Side of Beautiful proves to be such a balm in the midst of a lockdown. Being in Mercy’s shoes while she traversed the great Australian landscape, it was truly an escape that I vicariously loved.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia via The Book Stack for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Witchshadow by Susan Dennard -a review

witchshadowWitchshadow (The Witchlands #4) by Susan Dennard

Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series continues – with the story of the Threadwitch Iseult.

War has come to the Witchlands . . . and nothing will be the same again.

Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before.

Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia – rightful queen of Nubrevna – finds herself without a crown or home.

As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

Witchshadow is the fourth book in the Witchlands series by bestselling author Susan Dennard.

Published 29 June 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$12.99

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

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Wow, definitely worth the wait though I feel it to be a shame that I read it so quickly (2 days) to read when it took 2 years between 3rd and 4th book to get to me. Witchshadow (all 464 pages of it) is such an immersive read that pages flew past and before I knew it, I reached the end of the book.

If you’ve been following the series, you’d know that it’s an utterly complex world with multiple threads that just keep unspooling. I did wonder if I’d manage to enjoy this read without rereading earlier books but while I struggled with minor characters and certain threads, I managed to follow the story just fine and without too much confusion. There were soo many threads floating around and some timelines going back and forth that I’m totally amazed that I wasn’t confused. Such tight structuring speaks well of both author [and editor]. By the way, if you need it, author has recap summaries on her website.

It feels like fans have waited forever for Iseult’s story. The Witchlands begins with Safi’s story in Truthwitch and that was in 2016; 5 years ago. I can promise you though that it is worth the wait because Iseult’s story is absolutely epic and fairly earth-shattering! Safi is her usual whirlwind self but Iseult and her stasis is facing some tough challenges with encountering strong enemies and discovering things about herself. But as they say, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. I can’t wait to see what these Threadsisters get up to next.

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

About the author
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The Ones We’re Meant to Find -a review

TOWMTFThe Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Two sisters. An unputdownable story.

Cee woke up on the shores of an abandoned island three years ago with no idea how she got there. Now eighteen, she lives in a shack with an ageing android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and she has to escape to find her.

From the safety of the eco-city floating above Earth, now decimated by natural disasters, sixteen-year-old Kasey mourns Cee whom she’s sure is dead. She too wants to escape: the eco-city is meant to be a sanctuary for people who want to save the planet, but its inhabitants are willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Is Kasey ready to use technology to help Earth, even though it failed her sister?

Cee and Kasey think that what they know about each other and their world is true. Both are wrong. If you loved We Were Liars or Black Mirror, you’ll love The Ones We’re Meant to Find, a clever, inspirational thriller.

Published 4 May 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

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

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

My main reason in picking up this book is the POC author and I thought the premise of the story, of 2 sisters trying to reach each other, is interesting. However, the novel is really not what I expected which could be a really good thing but it wasn’t, this time, not for me anyway.

Firstly, I just found the book really confusing. It took me a long time to come to some sort of understanding of the apocalyptic nature of the time. Then, the flashing back and forth between time (before & after separation) also threw me on a loop. It just made me feel that I’m not clever enough to understand the novel.

So, when twists came about, I just wasn’t that surprised but it did help my brain to click and I started to be able to untangle some of my confusion. It just took a really long time to get there. And then the ending was just to vaguely open for my liking; I really feel there should be more of a closure especially after all the effort of untangling the mess in my head.

While I understand there’s some really important message in this novel, the story or structure of this story is really not one for 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

Blog Tour: The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey



The Immortal Game
Talia Rothschild & A.C. Harvey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 25th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

An exiled goddess goes on a quest to clear her name and save Mount Olympus in Talia Rothschild & A C Harvey’s action-packed young adult debut, The Immortal Game!

Galene, daughter of Poseidon, desperately wants to earn her place among the gods. But when a violent attack leaves Mount Olympus in chaos and ruins, she is accused of the crime. Banished from Olympus, Galene sets out to prove her innocence and discovers a more deadly plot—one that threatens even the oldest of Immortals.

Fortunately, she has allies who willingly join her in exile:

A lifelong friend who commands the wind.
A defiant warrior with deadly skill.
A fire-wielder with a hero’s heart.
A mastermind who plays life like a game.

All-out war is knocking at the gates. Galene and her friends are the only ones who can tip the scales toward justice, but their choices could save Olympus from total annihilation, or be the doom of them all.

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My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

I’m not actually a fan of Greek mythology so I don’t read very much of books related to it. However, I did have a lot of fun with the Percy Jackson series and The Immortal Game sounds a bit more like the series in that protagonist plus friends are going on an adventurous quest which I thought could be fun; it did not disappoint.

The novel opens with Galene, main protagonist, about to face her trial to earn her place among the gods. It’s a pretty exciting start to the novel with more exciting action to come in the second half of the story. I must admit I felt that it dragged a bit during the actual quest journey but that may also be because of the love triangle. This is my pet peeve so unfortunately, that’s taken off 1 star but I have to confess that it could’ve been worse. The fact that I finished reading this novel does mean that the love triangle is only just slightly annoying; just have to persevere ’til just after halfway and it gets better.

There are 4 POVs in this novel but there are 5 in the quest… that in itself is a bit too cluey! I don’t know if it was meant to be a twist but it was definitely not at all surprising. While I do like all characters especially the girls as they appear to have grown the most in this story, I think we could do with 1 or 2 less POVs. The girls, Galene & her BFF, Iyana, grew stronger & stronger throughout and in the end, truly came into themselves which I really loved to see in my female protagonists.

Overall, I enjoyed The Immortal Game especially the latter half which is love-triangle-less and action-packed. It’s an easy read to relax & unwind with.

My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for having me on this tour and  copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

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About the authors

Author Bio:

Talia Rothschild, Italian American, is passionate about stories in many forms—music, dance, photography, film and, of course, great novels. She believes in thick hot chocolate and creamer in your tea. When she’s not happily writing, she’s mothering the sweetest baby girl and making memories with her husband. Her debut book The Immortal Game, coauthored with A. C. Harvey, hits the shelves May 2021.

Ashleigh Harvey is teaching high school physics and bringing her writing dreams to life. English-born and world-traveled, she loves filling her life with new adventures, such as visiting a new country or exploring the Wild West with her husband. She also finds escape in movies, music, literature, and yearly comic conventions. The Immortal Game is her debut novel, created alongside Talia Rothschild, her close friend.

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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: 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

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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

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