laurenreviews

2

Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) 

by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

I recieved a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss.

First Impressions: I was going to give this 4 stars, but the last 20% or so was intense

+ Fabulous world building. 
+ Great character development and character interaction. 
+ Some pretty mindblowing twists.
+ Some rather attractive princes.
+ Mare is an absoulutely fearsome female protagonist.
+ One of the best high fantasy books I’ve ever read.

Review: It’s not hard to see how Red Queen is one of the most highly anticipated novels of 2015. Red Queen is a fantastic debut YA, high fantasy and doesn’t fail to astound and capture the reader. 

Mare Barrow is a Red - that’s the colour of her blood - and the Reds are meant to serve the Silver because the Reds are considered inferior and the Silvers have supernatural powers. Mare is a pickpocket and uses her skill to help support her family, but when her lifelong friend, Kilorn is conscripted into the army, a fate that she would soon share, Mare gambles away everything in order to win his freedom. When she discovers that she has powers but her blood is still Red, Mare ends up as a long lost Silver princess and betrothed to one of the King’s son. As Mare is dragged deeper into the Silver’s world, she becomes a pawn in a vicious and vengeful game. 

Red Queen was exceptional, and is one of the best YA high fantasy novels I’ve read. The world-building in Victoria Aveyard’s debut is fabulous and vivid, and somehow manages to be modern whilst retaining its high fantasy element.

There are some great characters, with some fantastic character development and character interaction throughout the novel. Mare is an admirable heroine who is brave, intelligent yet vulnerable at the same time. The two princes, Maven and Cal, were each attractive and alluring in their own way. The villain, The Queen, is interesting and the members of the Scarlet Guard are exciting. 

The plot was my favourite part of Red Queen and there are some pretty big twists that I didn’t see coming (but reading some reviews on GR, some say they did), and I was completely gobsmacked by the turn of events. A fast paced novel with twists and turns and suspense. 

I highly recommend, particularly if you are a fan of high fantasy. RATING: ★★★★★ pre order on Book Depository
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None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex … and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

I received a free copy to review via Edelweiss

When I saw None of the Above, I was excited because I had never heard of a book with an intersex protagonist, and therefore I feel that None of the Above has made a giant leap in the diverse books movement. When I read it, I found it was a moving, raw and emotionally driven novel that tries its very best to stay authentic and provide a relatable intersex character struggling with her identity.

I knew very little about being intersex before starting this book and knew a lot more after finishing it. Whilst also being informative and discussing the prejudice of being intersex, it also discussing the psychological impact and decisions that come with a diagnosis.

When Kristin discovers she’s intersex, she feels that her whole world has fallen down around her as she struggles with her diagnosis and her identity, and when the whole school finds out Kristin, faces disgusting behaviour and prejudice from her classmates, and even her boyfriend.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kristin as our protagonist and I loved watching her progress throughout the story.

I.W. Gregorio handles the topic in a delicate and informative way, but also honestly and emotionally.

It’s a book that I cannot recommend enough.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

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Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince … but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.


I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

I’ve had my eye on Mechanica for a while now because I love fairytale retellings. Cornwell takes some of the most memorable traits from Cinderella, but makes it her own, creating this original steampunk take on one of our childhood favourite fairytales. Nicolette’s mother was an inventor, and she taught Nicolette mostly everything she knew. After her mother’s death, Nicolette’s father remarried - and we know how the rest goes; there is a ball, a prince, but also an exposition where Nicolette can show of her inventions and finally earn her freedom from her evil Stepmother and step-sisters, but does Nicolette get a happy ever after?

My favourite part of Mechanica was the beginning, which started off very strongly, and we learned the history of the kingdom, of the fae, the political tensions between humans and the fae, and the background of Nicolette herself. I thought the world-building was great and I loved the incorporation of Fae and their magic. This was one of the high points of the novel. I loved several of the characters too, though I can’t say that Nicolette was one of them (though I rather admired her strength).

Mechanica strays quite a lot from the original source material, but that’s what makes it’s a great and original story. The reason this is not getting a higher rating from me is because I felt it was rather slow during the middle, and the resolution was all quite neat, even with some political tensions between the fae and humans still left unanswered and unresolved. In fact, it actually leaves it quite open for a sequel.

For those concerned, Mechanica is absolutely nothing at all like Cinder. The only thing they share in common is that they’re both inventors/mechanics, though Mechanica is set in a steampunk setting. Otherwise, the story and characters differ vastly. I wouldn’t pass this up because you’re worried about it being a carbon copy of Cinder.

Overall, I think it could have been better, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Pre-order at Book Depository

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The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. 

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

First Impressions: I really enjoyed this, particularly Kestrel who is a fantastically developed, fierce and intelligent protagonist. I also loved the slow building romance between Kestrel and Arin. I can't wait for the next book.

Review: Kestrel is the general’s daughter of an empire where they conquer and enslave. Kestrel has only two choices, either marry or join the army. Yet Kestrel wants neither - she wants music, she wants something different, she wants to do what she wants. During an auction of a slave, Kestrel makes a rash decision and buys Arin, something of a kindred spirit. This proves to be a disastrous move and Kestrel has to pay a price higher than she ever intended. 

I had heard some fantastic things about The Winner’s Curse, and when I read the novella Bridge of Snow, I was set. The Winner’s Curse was something I had to read. And the cover is really pretty, right?

I am a massive fan of high fantasy and this one certainly did not disappoint. Perhaps the world-building did feel lacking, but I loved it nonetheless. I loved that the women had gowns equipped with daggers, I loved how women can fight in the army, how they have influence, how they can fight in duels and WIN and it’s not considered strange. 

Kestrel isn’t a fighter. She’s not strong in the sense that she can physically kick butt. However, she’s strong in her own right. She’s a strategist, and she's smart, cunning and attentive. She wins with her mind, not with her fists and it’s something that I deeply admired her for because she's different from all the other heroines. She’s one of the smartest protagonists I’ve met.

Another thing I really enjoyed in The Winner’s Curse was the slow building relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It wasn’t instalove, thankfully, but they slowly learnt to appreciate and care for each other. Arin was a slave, Kestrel was his mistress but she treated him fairly. They’re both very protective of each other, care for each other, even love each other but they don’t let it override the most important factor: they’re unequals in the eyes of society, they face some very real and dangerous problems. 

Overall, The Winner’s Curse was a highly enjoyable and enticing novel.

RATING: ★★★★★

Buy at Book Depository

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The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back? 

First Impression: The Distance Between Lost and Found is a powerful and moving story of survival in both the physical and mental sense. I LOVED it, and Hallie (short for Hallelujah) is very much a relatable character who struggles to find her voice, but when she does it’s truly inspirational. 

“The storm won’t last long. And, Hallelujah realizes, sometimes you need the storm to really appreciate the sun and the blue sky.”

Review:  Something bad happened between Hallie and Luke Willis, the preachers son. Luke, because he’s an absolute shitface (mind my language), lies about what happened and Hallie suffers the consequences. She’s tormented and bullied, distrusted by her parents, shunned by her peers and abandoned by her friends. Six months later, Hallie returns to church youth group and they’re out hiking in the mountains. Hallie continues to be tormented, Luke takes pride out of her shame and embarrassment. When she meets Rachel, a fun outgoing new girl who knows nothing of Hallie’s and Luke’s past, who hasn’t heard the nasty rumours, Hallie is still on the defensive and thus is quickly distrustful of Rachel. When out hiking, Rachel, Hallie and Jonah – Hallie’s ex-best friend – get separated from the group and must stick together to survive. They begin to form a strong bond and the life and death struggle is enough to encourage Hallie to speak out, to stand up for herself and to stop being tormented by the past.


I was excited about The Distance Between Lost and Found. I don’t entirely know why, I just was. Yet, I had every right to be because it’s a deeply moving story and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read it. 

Whilst at times it may seem like The Distance Between Lost and Found is just about trying to survive in the wilderness, trying to rely on each other, it’s much more than that. It would have been a great story still if it wasn’t, but I think the touching storyline and fantastically developed characters and back-story (for everyone, not just Hallie) was what made The Distance Between Lost and Found a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. 

It’s an important novel because it shows the REALITY of situations like this, which is incredibly disturbing. Everybody took the preacher’s son, and the popular kids side because he was found in a compromising position and OF COURSE he couldn’t do any wrong, could he? But also, WE MUST PROTECT HIS REPUTATION.

It’s wrong, and I hate Luke and everyone else for it, but stuff like this actually HAPPENS, and it needs exposure, because girls need to know they can speak up. 

They put Hallie in a position where she feels threatened to tell the truth, but it’s also disgusting that’s she’s treated the way she is. 

Hallie is a very courageous character who is deeply hurting and can’t find the strength to speak out about what happened. She’s vulnerable inside, but the silence is just a shield – keep your head down and it will go away, they’ll find something new to talk about. It doesn’t happen like that, and Hallie comes to realise it. It was a wonder and an inspiration to get to watch Hallie make that choice. I enjoyed Rachel as a character too, her supportiveness, her openness and general optimism in the face of danger. She was a great friend to Hallie, despite just meeting. Jonah, whilst at times he acts entitled, has some serious character development throughout the novel (though I wish they’d just stayed friends). Luke was someone I detested from the start and people who do something intentionally hurtful and so emotionally and mentally scarring should be punished for what they did. 

Overall, The Distance Between Lost and Found is a book I will probably find myself recommending frequently because the story behind it is a powerful one, because Hallie ends up the one in control.

RATING: ★★★★★

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Everything That Makes You

by Moriah McStay

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss for review purposes.
Everything That Makes You is an interesting concept – what if that ONE thing didn’t happen? How different would your life be? Would it be better, or worse? Would you fall in love with the same person? It was this type of narrative that really made this book something unique.

Fiona has a scarred face from an accident twelve years ago. She’s shy and considers herself an outcast. She writes songs about her life, her scars and the beautiful and charming Trent McKinnon. Throughout Fiona’s story, she finds the courage not to be defined by her scars anymore. Then there’s Fi – the Fiona who didn’t have the accident. Ranked top in the state for lacrosse heading to one of the best colleges for female lacrosse, Fi has it all. Her best friend is also Trent McKinnon, who is acting weird since their kiss, but Fi has more important things on her mind and when her luck goes sideways, she decides lacrosse isn’t the only important thing in her life.

Everything That Makes You is a moving piece of writing with a relatable protagonist, witty dialogue, thoughtful choices and some loveable secondary characters. It makes you really think about whether YOU define your path or whether fate or luck does. I’m happy at how both Fi’s and Fiona’s stories ended, and how their difficult choices and unfortunate luck made them the people who they were. Their interests differed, but essentially, they were the same girl – headstrong, passionate, kind and realistic. 

For me, it was Fiona and Fi who made this story as great as it was. To see each develop into somebody stronger and better and didn’t let her scars/lacrosse define who she was. By the end of the novel, they have discovered themselves. 

A highly recommendable piece of contemporary fiction with some really great moments.

Plus, the cover is lovely.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1)

by Elizabeth Wein 

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

I first read Code Name Verity over a year ago–GOD, that long? (Read my first (and awful) review here, though it really doesn’t do CNV justice)–and believe me when I say I instantly fell in love. Yes, yes, I reluctantly admit that the first 50 pages or so are bogged down with technical terms and aircraft types (but frankly, I didn’t mind so much–I am a history nerd) so some people have difficulty getting into it BUT PLEASE CONTINUE WITH IT! You’ll be viciously catapulted into a heartwrenching story of friendship and bravery and fall in love with an arrogant, stubborn SCOTSWOMAN.

Jesus, I love and hate this book. Hate because it makes me CRY

“KISS ME, HARDY. Kiss me, QUICK!" YES, OK. I’M BLUBBERING LIKE A BABY.

"Fly the plane, Maddie.” Yes, more tears.

You’ve also GOT to re-read Code Name Verity to understand and appreciate the cleverness of it. You see things that you never did the first time round. You notice things and you’re like “OH MY GOD, YES! HOW DIDN’T I SEE THAT BEFORE?”

I love Maddie, and poor, poor Julie, and Jamie and bloody hell, even Engel. I love this book with a passion. It’s my favourite, period.

Also, if you have read and loved Code Name Verity, I would highly recommend reading the companion novel (and meet a few familiar faces), Rose Under Fire. Obviously, no protoganist can compare to Julie, but Rose Justice is absoloutely breathtaking in her own way.

I’m going to leave you with my favourite quote:

“I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can’t believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant. But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”


You’re also probably wondering why I’m doing a completely seperate review, right? It’s because I got a lovely US edition from a friend to go alongside my UK one.

RATING: ★★★★★

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Solitaire

by Alice Oseman

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

“There comes a point, though, when you can’t keep looking after other people anymore. You have to start looking after yourself.”

Solitaire is a refreshing and brutally honest realistic fiction written by a teenager (Alice Oseman is only nineteen) for teenagers so it’s totally and utterly relatable. 

You know what I loved the most about Solitaire? Tori. Whilst she’s cynical, sarcastic and rather mentally troubled, she's real and it’s great to read and see her develop and I loved every second of it. I also loved Michael Holden and his bumpy touching relationship with Tori and how, at the end, it was all about acceptance. 

The Solitaire aspect of the story invited mystery and suspense, and although I guessed early on who was behind it, the reveal is still rather spontaneous. 

For a debut novel, Solitaire was fantastic and I’m looking forward to reading more from Alice Oseman in the future.

I would highly recommend to fans of contemporary realistic fiction, and fans of authors such as John Green.

A lot of thanks to Alice for sending me a free (signed & annotated throughout - this made my reading experience so much better. I won in an instagram giveaway) copy to read! RATING: ★★★★★ Buy now at Book Depository
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Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) 

by Anne Blankman

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss

Prisoner of Night and Fog follows the life of Gretchen Müller who grew up with the support of the National Socialist Party and her ‘Uncle Dolf’, as she refers to him as. Gretchen’s father gave up his life for Hitler’s and now Gretchen sees him as a second father, following his every command and believing every lie. When Gretchen meets Daniel, a Jewish reporter, she falls unexpectedly in love even though she has been raised to despise him. As the two investigate her father’s death, Gretchen questions everything she’s ever known and she must choose between her old life or uncover the truth.

I was originally drew to Prisoner of Night and Fog because of the cover because it’s gorgeous. Then I read the synopsis and decided I needed it. So when I requested it and got accepted I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled, actually. Being a fan of young adult historical fiction, I was instantly drawn into the book. I’ll begin with the plot. It was intricate with many twists and turns and I was captivated from the beginning. Adolf Hitler is shown, on the surface, as a kind caring man who has the good of Germany at his heart. Yet, even though we know what a cruel man he was, Gretchen is slowly exposed to the disturbing truth. Hitler wants to destroy the Jews, exterminate them. He wants to wage wars and he’s not working for the ordinary man. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it, but when Gretchen discovers the truth, about her brother Reinhard aswell, she must choose between two paths. Does she stay in her old life as the privileged girl under the wing of Adolf Hitler, or does she run and not look back?

The characters were a strong  point of the story and I think that Blankman did a fantastic job interweaving her own characters in with real ones, the dynamic between them all felt flawless. Gretchen was a great protagonist and I admired her loyalty, yet found her admirable  in her quest to uncover the truth. She was evidently intelligent and determined, and brave. Brave for questioning the life she had grown up with, and brave for falling in love with a Jew in 1930s Germany, and then proud for falling in love with a Jew in 1930s Germany. Another character I really enjoyed was Daniel Cohen. Can I have a Daniel Cohen? Please? He was fearless, loyal to Gretchen, intelligent and intent on finding the truth, yet sarcastic and fun loving. I loved the development between Daniel and Gretchen and I found they had great chemistry. Reinhard was an incredibly well developed and intriguing character, yet I seriously despised him, along with 'Uncle Dolf’. The secondary characters, such as Eva and Geli, were also well developed and a great addition to the story.

Whilst the atmosphere didn’t feel as genuine as other historical novels I have read, it did not lessen my enjoyment of the story and I think that Blankman did a very good job and was very historically accurate.

I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, and fans of books like Code Name Verity and The Book Thief.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

Dangerous Girls

by Abigail Haas

Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.

Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn’t just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it’s more shocking than you could ever imagine…

First Impression: Dangerous Girls completely and utterly messed with my head. A serious mind-fuck. I actually did not see that VERY SHOCKING plot twist coming. Dangerous Girls is such an awesome book and I would, rather forcefully, encourage you give it a go. I’ll be reading Dangerous Boys soon. 

Review: Anna’s best friend Elise is brutally murdered whilst they’re on a spring break trip to Aruba with a group of close friends. Anna becomes the prime suspect and is soon locked up in a foreign prison, fighting for her freedom. Both family and friends, along with the rest of the world, is questioning Anna’s innocence and thinks she’s a dangerous psychopath. 

I went into Dangerous Girls with high expectations and it met them ALL. Suspense and mystery, romance and MURDER.Dangerous Girls is so cleverly plotted and very well executed that it’s a definite mind-fuck of a book. By the end, you throw away ALL of your assumptions you had throughout the book – throw them out the window, then go burn them – because it turns everything on its head and it something that you probably didn’t see coming. Or did. I suspected it but quickly discarded it. A very entertaining and addictive book, I must say.

Now, I’ll talk about the ever complex, mysterious characters. Firstly, Elise. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of her at times, I deeply admired the relationship she had with Anna. They were the bestest of friends and that I really enjoyed. I don’t really know what to say about Anna, other than she is a really complex character who you really do empathise with and also, I LOVE UNRELIABLE NARRATORS. I don’t want to spoil it so just go read it for yourself. 

I disliked Tate from the start, to be quite honest, and knew he wasn’t the nicest of guys. The supporting character were irritating, but necessary, and still very much well developed.

Overall, a really awesome book that I plan on reading again. It’s a dark and twisted psychological thriller, so don’t brush it off as some other clichéd YA contemporary because it’s SO MUCH MORE. It’s so multi-layered and developed and clever and shocking. It’s a book you’ll continue to think about days after you’ve read it. It’s so under appreciated. Please, go do yourself a favour and go read it.

RATING: ★★★★★

Buy at Book Depository

2

Heist Society (Heist Society #1) 

by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. But now her dad’s life is on the line, and Kat must go back to the world she tried so hard to escape…

“It is an occupational hazard that anyone who has spent her life learning how to lie eventually becomes bad at telling the truth.”

Kat Bishop was a is a theif and has tried to leave the criminal life and join the straight and narrow, kind of. You know, as straight and narrow as you can be conning your way into one of the best schools in the country. However, when Kat’s father’s life is put on the line, Kat has no choice but to re-enter the family business.

Heist Society is a fun, light read. If that’s what you’re looking for, I would definitely give this book a shot. If you’re a fan of stuff life Ocean’s Eleven or Hustle or Leverage, or any sort of con/thief television show or movie, I would also highly suggest you give Heist Society a shot, because it’s tailored for teens as well. 

Heist Society was also full of some pretty cool (if not rather clichéd) characters. Kat was witty and sassy. Hale was very much attractive and so obviously cared for Kat. Simon was a stereotypical science/computer nerd. Gabriella was also an interesting character and I hope to read more about her and Kat’s frenemy status in the next books. 

Overall, a fun and light read with excellent pacing and mystery.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

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2

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys

That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch …

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose … Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

‘Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.’

Between Shades of Gray
 is a moving story that opens your eyes to the horrors that occurred to the Baltic countries under the rule of Stalin and the USSR. I was previously unaware to such horrors, despite studying the USSR in University. I feel that it is a subject that goes overlooked in history, and I feel guilty about not knowing about it. 

Between Shades of Gray follows the story of Lina, a Lithuanian girl who is forced out of her home by the NKVD along with her family and sent to labour camps. The story tells of their suffering during this period, which lasted over a decade. They were starved, were kept prisoner and along the way, people died. They were treated as animals. 

Lina is the narrator of the story, and her narrative is gruesome and straight to the point. She is a strong and brave character. Despite the dangers, she draws and writes about the cruel Soviets. Whilst living under such grim circumstances, she remains hopeful that she’ll be reunited with her father and that she’ll even go home. It made me sad to know that it would take over a decade to do so.

I found Andrius a great character as well, and I think that the love he had for Lina is obvious and they supported each other when they needed someone the most. It’s a moving story with a genuine development. 

“Good men are often more practical than pretty “ said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.” 

Between Shades of Gray was a seriously engaging story that may make you cry because it’s meant to convey such an important message - that these people were ignored  by the rest of the world. The Nazi’s were the priority at this time, and there are several points within the story that it states that German would help them when they invaded Lithuania, but the two evils are the same. 

Ruta Sepetys is an amazing author that depicts the events with such clarity and feeling that it should not be ignored. 

 MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) 

by Sara Raasch

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast tale of loyalty, love, and finding one’s destiny.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss

“Fear is a seed that, once planted, never stops growing.”

Snow Like Ashes follows Meira and her quest, along with other Winterian refugees, to free Winter, their home. Meira was orphaned during the War between Spring and Winter and raised by the Winterian General, William, who she calls Sir. When the location of Winter’s locket is discovered, a locket that can restore Winter’s power and help the refugees, and the King of Winter, take back their home from the clutches of Spring, Meira goes after the locket only to be thrust into the dangerous world of politics and unforeseen destinies.

The plot, at first, is fairly simple. Retrieve Winter’s conduit (the locket) and save Winter from Spring. In that sense, it reminded me very much of Finnikin of the Rock, and thus I think fans ofThe Lumatere Chronicles will enjoy Snow Like Ashes. However, towards the middle to the end of the novel, the pace really picks up and you’re thrown into a very quick and enticing plotwith many twists and shocks throughout. Snow Like Ashes is a very compelling read and I highly suggest you give it a read, particularly if you’re a fan of the high fantasy genre. Raasch’s writing is great, and easy to follow yet rich and emotive. 

As many high fantasy fans will be aware of, world building is essential to the readers enjoyment. I can assure you that Raasch did an excellent job in bringing the Seasons and the Rhythms to life, and although it starts of confusing, I got my head around it all very quickly. I also loved that your season determined how you looked from Winters white locks and pale skin, to Autumns copper skin. You really did have a sense that you were in an alternative universe, with constant winters and summers, with charming princes and badass ladies throwing chakrams.

I particularly enjoyed the characters and I think that the characters coupled with the world building is what made Snow Like Ashes such an awesome read. It took me several chapters to warm to Meira, but one cannot deny her fierceness and independence and willingness to prove herself. Those who like Celaena from Throne of Glass will probably like Meira, though she is certainly not as arrogant or brash, but her temper tantrums can be likened to Celaena (though she has every right). Also, there are a couple of swoon worthy princes thrown in there which are easy to love. 

Overall, I think that Snow Like Ashes is an awesomely great high fantasy novel.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

2

On the Fence

by Kasie West

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can out-run, out-score, and outwit every boy she knows–including her long-time neighbor, and honorary fourth brother, Braden.

But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chi-chi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and bedazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pick-up game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via edelweiss.

On The Fence was a refreshing YA contemporary romance, one that had a genuine friendship and relationship that developed realistically and was not incredibly cheesy like your run of the mill contemp-romance.

Charlie is a tomboy and has grown up with three protective brothers, and thus knows how to bad-mouth and out do all the other boys. Along with her three brothers, Charlie includes her neighbour, Braden as an honorary brother. When Charlie’s father, a cop, makes her get a job to pay off another speeding ticket, Charlie finds herself working in a clothes shop - and she doesn’t know the first thing about fashion, or about being a girl. She finds herself in a new world, one with short skirts and make-up, and boys that haven’t seen her play football. With the inability to sleep due to missing out on her late night run because of her new job, Charlie finds comfort in her backyard with Braden and their Fence Chats. She begins to see Braden in a new light and can’t help falling for him.

On The Fence is a pretty easy going read, with a lot of fun and humorous moments. It even scored low on cringe-worthy moments, but I found myself entranced from the beginning; and read the whole thing with a massive grin on my face. I’ve never read Kasie West’s other books, but after reading this, I might just have to, because I thought it was pretty damn awesome. Charlie was a relatable character, and whilst she struggled with her identity, she came out of it confident with her head held high. Braden was swoon-worthy, and I really loved their friendship and how it developed. I really enjoyed her brothers also, as each had a different personality that went well with Charlie.

For fans of contemporary romance, I would highly suggest giving this a go. Even if you don’t usually like contemporary romance, give this a go, because it’s one of the good ones.

RATING: ★★★★☆

2

Stray

by Elissa Sussman

Epic, rewarding, and provocative, this original fairy tale tells the story of Aislynn, a princess who misbehaves and must give up her royal trappings and enter a life of service as a fairy godmother. Stray will appeal to readers of Entwined, by Heather Dixon; to those who grew up watching the Disney princess movies; and to fans of the acclaimed musicals Into the Woods and Wicked.

Princess Aislynn’s magical ability is powerful and uncontrollable, and at her academy’s Introduction Ball—where she hopes to be introduced to her beloved and begin a life of happily ever after—Aislynn makes a horrible mistake instead. According to The Path, the strict patriarchal doctrine of the land, Aislynn must now be redirected—her loving heart is removed and put in a cabinet, her royal ball gown is replaced with a simple purple robe, and she is assigned to a Princess Linnea as her fairy godmother. A cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked, with a dash of Grimm and Disney thrown in, this original fairy tale is part coming-of-age story, part fairy tale, part adventure, part sweet romance. Will Aislynn remain true to her vows and her royal family and turn away from everything she longs for? Or will she stray from The Path and discover her own way? Includes a recipe for Fairy Godmother Bookbinder Bread.

I received a free copy via Edelweiss.

I’ve had some disappointing reads recently and I was so glad that Stray turned out to be an entertaining, beautiful and refreshing fairytale. 

Princess Aislynn’s magic is uncontrollable and it rewards her with nothing but punishment. At her Introduction Ball (where she becomes of age to be married off), Aislynn makes a mistake that causes her to be Redirected – she becomes a fairy godmother in training and she is assigned to Princess Linnea, who very much becomes a friend to Aislynn. The ancient and strict teachings of her society, known as The Path is what all members of society live by and Aislynn must choose whether to live by The Path, or to stray from it.

An original fairytale, I think this novel will appeal to fans of Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and hell, even fans of our favourite Disney movies from our childhood and adulthood.

My favourite thing about Stray is the characters. I loved Aislynn as our protagonist. She had her flaws, certainly, but she is self-consciousness (yet learns to overcome this), brave and kind, even though this does mean that she lands herself in trouble a lot of the time. I really loved to read about her development throughout the novel and how she came to accept herself and her magic. 

I also very much loved the charming Thackery. He is, as you probably guessed, the love interest for Aislynn – but it’s sweet and slow and leaves you aching for more interaction between the two. 

The story is dark and enticing , compelling and addictive to read despite some slow pacing at times. Overall, I really did enjoy this original novel with a very genuine fairytale feel.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

“Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”

Instead of telling her crushes of her feelings, Lara Jean writes them down in a letter and hides them in a hat box under her bed. It’s her way of letting go, of moving on from these crushes. Whilst Lara Jean never intends for them to get sent, they do anyway as you would expect, and Lara Jean must face the consequences.

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because, whilst I was super excited to start it (I really enjoyed Burn for Burn and I need the next one), the first few chapters left me a bit…meh. Then I met Peter Kavinsky and all was forgiven. 

In order to ‘save face’ in front of her current crush, Josh (after he receives a letter), she unexpectedly kisses an old crush…in front of the entire school. Peter is a jerk at times, sure, but deep down he’s actually a pretty darn nice guy. As soon as I saw the relationship between the two of them, I had forgotten all about Josh (sorry Josh!). And at first, Lara Jean did annoy me and her voice was a tad naive, but throughout the story, you really see her grow and it’s a pleasure to read. 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a cute, lighthearted and humorous read and a series I’ll be sure to keep up with.

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

2

The Perfectionists

by Sara Shepard

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series Pretty Little Liars comes a thrilling new novel about five perfect girls who are framed for a murder they didn’t commit. 

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them. 

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

I recieved a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss

I went into The Perfectionists with rather mixed feelings. I was excited because I enjoy contemporaries like this, but also wary because I had heard mixed things about Sara Shepard’s previous series (that others have said The Perfectionists is similar to in many ways) Pretty Little Liars. However, I must admit,  I was very much pleasantly surprised and came out actually really enjoying this. 

Five girls – Parker, Julie, Caitlin, Mac and Ava – have all, in some way or another, fallen victim to Nolan Hotchkiss and thus all secretly despise him. In a town where everybody has to be perfect, Nolan is the most perfect and most revered of them all. Together, the girls come up with a way to murder him – all hypothetical, of course, until he turns up dead. The girls must find the real killer before their very perfect lives are ruined for good.

I really enjoyed the characters in The Perfectionists and, for me, it was certainly one of the high points. Each of the five girls had a very distinct personality and were rather likeable characters (my favorites were Ava and Julie). I deeply admired the friendship between the five girls, and loved how it was portrayed – they knew each other’s secrets, yet each were understanding and were very accepting of each other.

The plot was sometimes over shadowed by the romantic entanglements of the girls. Although I did like reading of their ‘perfect’ lives, sometimes I wished it to get back to the mystery at hand – WHO KILLED NOLAN? I do have my own suspicions and I can say that I’m eager for the next book in the series, but I do hope it doesn’t drag out like I’ve heard the PLL series does.

Overall, an enjoyable read that’s very much entertaining and difficult to put down (& it’s a quick read, too).

RATING: ★★★★☆ 

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2

Illusions of Fate

by Kiersten White

Dive into a world of enchantment and romance in this lush fantasy, which Stephanie Perkins, international bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, called “an absolute delight—a magical, sparkling, dangerous world with witty repartee and a romance that will light your heart on fire.” Fans of Libba Bray and Cassandra Clare will fall in love with this captivating stand-alone novel from Kiersten White, New York Timesbestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy.

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't—power, money, status … and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss.

Illusions of Fate follows the life of Jessamin, a girl who moves from her island home of Melei to the gray and drizzly country of Albion (we have a POC character!), and meets the damnably handsome Finn. Finn introduces Jessamin to the wonders of Albion’s nobility - specifically, the magic of it. Jessamin, however, becomes a pawn that Lord Downpike uses in order to possess the much wanted secret of Finn, and this puts her in some serious danger. 

I seriously loved every second of Illusions of Fate, even if it lost a bit of its magic towards the end. It’s a dazzlingly, witty and suspenseful historical fantasy. I read at every opportunity, mentally fist-bumped Jessa for her witty remarks and stubbornness, and swooned over the charming Finley. It also picks up on some very important themes, particularly racism. 

No matter how many strong-willed and witty female characters I meet in books, I never tire of them. They’re fun, they’re entertaining and they are someone to root for. Jessamin was exactly this, I loved her for it. I must admit, she has become one of my favourite female characters. I even loved the romance, despite how quick it was, but it was done exceptionally well and I think it’s because of Jessamin’s reluctance and Finn’s utterly charming personality. Finn is a great character as well, and matches Jessamin perfectly. He is charismatic, fetching, intelligent and utterly gallant. He’s great with Jessamin because she’s all these things too! She’s bold, smart, witty, proud and I deeply admired her. 

Illusions of Fate is a deeply engaging novel with just the right amount of magic, suspense, adorable romance and strong female leads. I’m sad it’s a standalone novel, but I’m also happy how it ended. I would highly recommend.

RATING: ★★★★★

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2

Dissonance (Dissonance #1) 

by Erica O'Rourke 

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss


That was pretty damn awesome. 

Dissonance follows the life of Delancy Sullivan who is a Walker, or at least training to be, and has the ability to walk between worlds in the multiverse. Del’s job is to keep harmony between all the worlds, worlds that are created through choices. When Del is suspended by the Council because of a Walk gone bad, she begins to unravel something bigger than Park World, all the whilst falling for Echo Simon and Original Simon, but a powerful secret threatens them all. 

One thing I really admired about Dissonance was the incredibly well thought out, intricately woven and brilliantly executed world building. There was no big info dump, but it was revealed slowly and concisely throughout the novel. Whilst the science stuff confused me at times (because I don’t understand it and barely passed physics), I found that it was explained nicely. I thought the multiverse was very interesting and well done. It was one of the best things about the book. 

Another great thing about Dissonance were the characters who were so multi-dimensional that I fell for each one. Whilst there was the obvious girl and best friend and unattainable bad boy love triangle, I still found myself loving each character individually. Del was a seriously badass character, even though she annoyed me at times, but it made her all the more realistic. She made mistakes, she had serious authority issues and she was hot headed and reckless, but I still loved her as a character and her development throughout the novel was such a pleasure to read. Then there is her sister, Addie, who I disliked at times but liked at others; seemingly a heartless, by-the-book, girl, Addie proves herself to be caring and thoughtful, though still puts the Key World and the Consort first. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Del and Addie. Eliot was also a great character, though I felt like I didn’t see him as much as I would have liked, but his devotion to Del is admirable. At first, I really shipped the relationship between Simon and Del though I felt that their interaction became a little stiff when he found out who she was. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I didn’t like their relationship as much. I still totally ship it though. 

Then there is the plot, and the massive plot twists that are revealed towards the end, and I’m left like…whatttttt? Monty? *Sad face*. But seriously though, an incredibly engaging plot, though it moves slow at times. 

A great read and I highly suggest giving it a go.

RATING: ★★★★☆

2

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) 

by Kelley Armstrong

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

*I received a free copy from the publishers via Edelweiss.

Sea of Shadows follows the lives of twin sisters, Moria and Ashyn, who are the Keeper and the Seeker of the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s most terrible criminals are exiled to. Every year, the Seeker and Keeper are tasked with calming the infuriated spirits of the forest. Yet, this year, something darker lurks in the forest, creatures of myth and the spirits won’t be calmed. Violence is unleashed and the two sisters are separated, accompanied by a thief and a irritable guard. The two sisters race against the clock to deliver a message to the emperor and attempt to save the empire from the ancient evil.  

I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s first YA series, The Darkest Powers, and so I was eager to give this a read and so took the first opportunity I could to give it a shot. It did not disappoint and fans of Kelley Armstrong will enjoy massively. As far as I know, this is Kelley Armstrong’s first epic fantasy, and I must say she did a very good job. The world building was fantastic and I really felt drawn into the empire and felt I travelled with the girls across the Wastes and battled with the ancient and supposedly mythical creatures right along with them. The pacing was a little slow at times, yet this did not lessen my enjoyment and I found myself reading at every opportunity. There was lots of action and suspense and you will not be disappointed if that’s what you’re looking for, but bear in mind that the story can move slow at times.

As for the characters, I loved them. Moria was by far my favourite and was much more interesting that Ashyn. Moria is badass, she’s strong, loyal to her sister and to her duty as a Keeper. She has a sharp tongue, quick wit and takes shit from no one. A female character to be deeply admired. Ashyn, whilst not as badass as Moria, was just as strong. She’s vulnerable and insecure and a dreamer, hopelessly romantic and scared.  Yet, I still loved her. I also think that Armstrong captured the dynamic between twins (being a twin myself), and this was definitely a highlight of the novel. Whilst romance plays a part in the girls life, it is not overwhelming nor a centric part. I loved both Ronan and Gavril, though at times Gavril was a bit of an ass, but mysterious and that made him all the more alluring. I would really like to learn more about both of them in the sequels.

Sea of Shadows is definitely a book to pick up if you’re a fan of the Young Adult genre, as it ticks all the boxes: suspense and action, great heroines and broody love interests. I would also recommend to fans of Kelley Armstrong and fans of the high fantasy genre. Definitely one of the best books I have read this year and is a series I will, without doubt, be continuing with.  

MY RATING: ★★★★★