The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge

41581245Martha can read things about a person and their emotions just by touching their clothes. It’s an ability she’s had since she fell from the tree outside her grandmother’s cabin and became blind in one eye. Determined to find answers about her strange ability, Martha travels alone to visit her grandmother, Mormor, in Norway. However, when she arrives, she discovers that Mormor is dead, there is a strange boy squatting in her cabin and a deadly creature on the loose.

The Twisted Tree is a relatively short book – about 250 pages – and surprisingly slow for such a short story. The plot is very simple and takes a long time to get going. When it did, it was pretty eventful, but kind of dull for the first 100 pages at least.

I struggled with Martha. Her damaged eye is a big chip on her should (fair enough) but her bitterness and the way she kept bringing it up stopped her from being particularly likeable. Also, considering that she was facing death-by-demon-creature and being visited by ghosts, she managed to spend a shocking amount of time stressing over whether Stig fancied her or not. Get your priorities straight, girl.

I’m a big lover of mythology in general, so the Norse mythological aspects were very enjoyable. It was cool to read a story based on a part of the mythology that didn’t revolve around the gods.

Overall, I didn’t think The Twisted Tree was fantastic, but it’s short and entertaining enough to be worth the read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kristen Ciccarelli

Welcome to my stop on a tour that I have been very excited about: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli. I hope you enjoy my review, and do remember to check out the other stops on the tour (which you can find details of at the bottom of this post).


40873495.jpgIn the second instalment of the Iskari series, Roa and Dax are the new queen and king of Firgaard. Far from home and married to a weak king who doesn’t keep his promises and was responsible for the death of Essie, her beloved sister, Roa feels alone and frustrated. Trapped in bird-form for years, Essie’s time is finally running out and Roa will do anything she can to bring her back; even kill the king.

I love this series. The world and the characters are fantastic, and I enjoyed reading from a new perspective. However, I did find Roa quite annoying with how indecisive she was and I didn’t enjoy reading about her as much as I did with Aasha in The Last Namsara. Dax, on the other hand, was a fantastic character. He was much deeper and more layered than romantic side-characters usually are, which really added something to the story.

The plot contained multiple love triangles which usually wind me up, but the story and the writing were good enough that I was able to get past these easily. The romance between Roa and Dax was very organic and lovely to read.

As in the first book, there are short chapters inserted throughout the story describing a mixture of past events and folklore which were probably my favourite parts of this book. It’s such an effective way to include background information without interrupting the narrative.

Final comment: There weren’t enough dragons.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

29748925Lazlo Strange, junior librarian, has always dreamed of seeing the lost city of Weep. For years he’s been obsessed with the Unseen City, so he can’t believe it when a hero known as the Godslayer arrives and offers him the opportunity, not only to see Weep, but to save it.

The dream chooses the dreamer. Not the other way around.

Strange the Dreamer is magical and magnificent. It delivers everything a reader could possibly want from a fantasy story. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so emotional about a book. Laini Taylor broke my heart with the ending.

This book is filled to the brim with wonderful characters (especially Lazlo, Sarai and Sparrow) who were really well developed and endearing. Even the ones we don’t actually get to know that well (like Eril-Fane and Azareen) and aren’t supposed to like (like Thyon Nero) are interesting and obviously complex.

During the first half of the book, I was completely entranced by Lazlo’s side of the story. However, Sarai’s parts were a little bit uneventful and the language was too flowery. Although description and scene-setting is important, I do like stories to get to the point a little quicker than they do in this book. But once things finally got going, wow, it was worth the wait. Immersive, romantic and completely irresistible.

It’s long, but I never lost interest and Laini’s writing is truly mesmerising. Book #2, The Muse of Nightmares, has already been pre-ordered.

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Blog Tour: Star-Touched Stories – Roshani Chokshi

36396341.jpgStar-Touched Stories is three magical stories set in the world of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. You don’t need to have read either book to enjoy this one, but it would help in order to understand some of the characters. Roshani Chokshi’s writing is pure magic. I don’t think I’ve ever read any books quite as magical as hers (and I read a lot of fantasy).

All three stories are special in their own way, but my favourite was the first one: Death and Night. The Lord of Death and the Goddess of Night meet by chance and, contrary to their natures, fall in love. As their romance blossoms, both begin to question if they could be made for more than they’ve believed. Death and Night are both completely brilliant characters, and the setting of this story is just the best (especially the Night Bazaar). I loved the romance between these two, and all of the supporting characters were great as well.

Poison and Gold was my least favourite of the three (although, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it). In this one, Aasha is sent to train to become the kingdom’s new Spy Mistress. However, she has lost control over her power to kill and can’t understand why. That particular aspect of the story really got on my nerves, because it was SO OBVIOUS why she’d lost her control. She’s not a stupid character, so why dumb her down so much in this story? I also didn’t really like the romance between Aasha and the Spy Mistress (whose name I can’t even remember). It just came across as too forced and unnecessary.

Rose and Sword was a nice addition to the book. Vikram falls ill and is on the brink of death, so Guari travels to the land of the dead to retrieve his last breath and save his life. I was so happy to read more about Guari and Vikram (mainly Guari) that almost anything could have happened in this story and I would have enjoyed it. Just to make things even better, Kamala – the lovable demon horse – is back and as brilliant as ever. It was a lovely ending to Guari and Vikram’s story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Between the Blade and the Heart – Amanda Hocking

35425584.jpgMalin is a Valkyrie and, as such, it is her responsibility to slay immortals when their time is up. But when she discovers that her own mother failed in this responsibility, Malin and her friends undertake the task of restoring balance to the world.

The synopsis of this book made it sound like a Norse fantasy. Instead, it’s more of a YA fantasy with some Norse influences. This was okay, because I do enjoy YA fantasy fiction, but it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t what I expected.

To be perfectly honest, I found the majority of this book rather boring. It wasn’t until very near the end that the story picked up and I started to get into it. I did enjoy the humour in this book, and the unusual love triangle.

It’s a good read, but it took a little too long to get going.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Starborn – Lucy Hounsom

34114570.jpgOn the day she comes of age, Kyndra accidentally destroys an ancient tradition and gets the blame for an unnatural storm that targets hers town. Two strangers with powers fuelled by the sun and moon rescue her and take her to the hidden citadel of Naris. Once there, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions, brutal tests, and meets both fanatics and rebels all trying to use her for their own cause.

I really expected to love this book, but actually, it didn’t have a lot of the things I look for in a YA fantasy. Yes, this means it avoided most of the usual tropes and clichés, and managed not to be just the same as every other YA fantasy story, but it also made it kind of boring. Honestly, not that much actually happened, and it’s not a short book.

I wasn’t a big fan of Kyndra, and not liking the lead character is always problematic. She wasn’t too annoying or sassy, instead she was just kinda bland. She was obsessed with getting back to her family even though she knew that, realistically, she couldn’t return to her village (they did try to kill her, after all) and that was pretty much her only drive. Also, there wasn’t even a hint of romance to the story, which I do like at least a little bit of.

I did like Bregenne and Nediah. I could have happily read an adult fantasy book about them. Same world, some of the same characters, but an adult target market and less of the irritating and argumentative teenager.

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The Black Notebook – Isabelle Snow

37420549.jpgSeven is the queen of giving advice and keeping secrets. Everyone at school comes to her with their secrets and, although she loves that people trust her, she struggles to remember who told her what. In order to keep track, Seven starts writing down all the secrets in a little black notebook. But things take a disastrous turn when the notebook falls into the hands of prankster, Colin Stillman. Seven does everything she can think of to get the notebook back, but Colin won’t give it up.

Genuine, sweet high-school romance stories are hard to find. For the most part, they’re cliched and irritating. The Black Notebook is one of the few that drew me in and made me wish I was a teenager again. I really enjoyed the relationship between Seven and Colin. It felt organic and realistic, completely believable and not at all forced. Although, it still has the usual will-they-won’t-they relationship build up, it actually makes sense to the plot and isn’t just plain annoying.

The only aspect of this book that I didn’t get was Seven’s obsession with getting the notebook back. Colin had a hold of the notebook for months and he never spilled a single secret. He actually comes across as very trustworthy and I didn’t understand why Seven was so determined to get in back, rather than realising that he wasn’t going to tell anyone anything.

Nicely written and very engaging, The Black Notebook is a sweet and enjoyable teen romance.

I received a copy of this book via Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

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Everless – Sara Holland

36475035In a land where time is used as currency, the rich live for centuries while the poor bleed themselves dry. For Jules and her father, every day is a struggle. To stop her father from draining away the rest of his life, Jules takes a job at Everless, a grand estate owned by the rich and cruel Gerling family. Once there, Jules discovers secrets she never could have imagined and learns that friends and enemies are sometimes difficult to tell apart.

I liked the concept of time being used as currency and, although this is definitely not the first time I’ve come across that idea, this is probably the most effectively I’ve seen it executed. The characters and world-building are classic YA-fantasy perfection, complete with evil royalty, family secrets and a budding hate-to-love storyline.

Probably the only aspect of this book that I didn’t like was Jules’ absolute determination to go against everything her father ever told her, and her decision to do the one thing that he gave his life to ask her not to do. The poor man literally died telling her to stay away from the queen, so what does she do? Obviously she nabs herself the job as close to the queen as possible. Girl, come on.

The plot moves quite fast and immersion into the story is excellent. I’m looking forward to Book #2. All I want is a little bit more from Liam (my favourite character is, of course, the bad guy).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

I Was a Bitch – Emily Ruben

32585553.jpgAfter a serious accident, Lacey Jones wakes up from a two-month coma, only to discover that she’s lost her memory of the last two years. In that time, she has somehow become the stunning, sexy queen bee of high school, dating a super-hot footballer and best friends with the most popular girls in school. But if Derek is her boyfriend, who is Finn, the sweet, perfect guy who seems to know her better than anyone else and claims to love her? Lacey now has to figure out who she is and put her life back together, without revealing to anyone that she’s forgotten the past two years of her life.

Okay, so, this book was pretty enjoyable, but seriously flawed. Firstly, the entire premise is questionable. I don’t know how realistic it is for someone to lose such a random and specific time period from their memory, but it doesn’t feel very believable in this book. It was frustrating to read because Lacey creates every problem for herself by refusing to tell anyone (except her extremely unhelpful parents – more on that later) that she’s lost her memory.

Secondly, the writing is very rudimentary. It is basic, and very, very repetitive. This made it quite tiresome to read at times. It was also difficult to make any connection between post-coma Lacey and pre-coma Lacey. In the two years that she’s lost, Lacey seems to have developed an entirely different (and kind of awful) personality that has no bearing on the person she was and is again now.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Lacey’s parents are unbelievably useless. To begin with, Lacey doesn’t even really recognise them which makes no sense because in her head she has only forgotten two years and her parents have been there her entire life. Then it turns out they’ve split up and even live apart but they never at any point think it might be a good idea to mention this to their daughter, who they know doesn’t remember their split. As some of the only people who know Lacey has lost her memory and who love her and care for her, you’d think they might try to help fill in some of the gaps in her memory, even if they can’t help her with everything. Instead, they are barely around. They don’t even take her to physical therapy. Like, come on parents, your child nearly DIED, where are you?

Basically, this book has a lot of problems. However, I liked it. I Was a Bitch is very enjoyable, in a trashy, teen kind of way. And there is definitely a place for those kinds of books.

I received a copy of this book from Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

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Truthwitch – Susan Dennard

29588505.jpgAfter an unfortunate run-in with a dangerous Bloodwitch, young witches Safiya and Iseult are forced to flee their home and hide. When things take a turn for the worse, the girls have no choice but to accept the help of Prince Merik of Nubrevna, a Windwitch. Together, they sail to Nubrevna to escape the Bloodwitch, the emperor, and anyone who would use Safiya’s Truthwitchery for their own gain.

This story is exciting and action-packed. It’s a true YA fantasy adventure, with witches, magic and a lot of fighting. It all sounds pretty awesome, but was sort of, not.

For starters, the writing style was very repetitive. This is a weird complaint, but the author used the girls’ names too often in the narrative. It stopped the story from flowing smoothly and was just kind of irritating.

I loved the focus of the story being on a female friendship. There are romance elements within the story, but it is in no way the main feature. It was nice to read about girls sticking together instead of falling out and taking each other down. However, the characters were just alright. Safiya and Iseult both had potential to be kick-ass and awesome, but they were both a bit hot-headed and lacking. And far too reliant on each other. My favourite by far was Aeduan, just because he’s pretty cool, but on the whole I didn’t care much for the other characters.

I did enjoy Truthwitch, but it seemed to take a really long time to read (and it’s not that long a book). When I love a book, I get through it really fast. This was just not one of those. It was good, but it dragged. I didn’t love it. I will be giving Book #2 a go, because I already own a copy. If I didn’t have one already, I’m not sure if I’d bother.

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