Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

 

Title: Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Published: June 4th 2019, Margaret K. Elderly Books

Status: Read July 2019

++++++

My Thoughts:

“Ink and parchment flowed through her veins. The magic of the Great Libraries lived in her very bones. They were a part of her, and she a part of them.”

Raised in the Great Library of Summershall, foundling Elisabeth Scrivener has grown up with no other desire than to become a Warden in service to the Collegium, to wield an iron sword, and protect the kingdom from the powerful grimoires that line the shelves of the six Great Library’s of Austemeer.

“For these were not ordinary books the libraries kept. They were knowledge, given life. Wisdom, given voice. They sang when starlight streamed through the library’s windows. They felt pain and suffered heartbreak. Sometimes they were sinister, grotesque—but so was the world outside. And that made the world no less worth fighting for, because wherever there was darkness, there was also so much light.”

But Elisabeth’s dream is shattered when she is accused of a deadly act of sabotage that results in the death of her mentor, the Summershall Director. Ordered to stand trial in the Capital, she is escorted by Nathaniel Thorn, a young Magister with a fearsome reputation, and his demon servant, Silas. Raised to believe the worst of sorcery, and those who wield it, Elisabeth doesn’t expect to even survive the journey, but she will face a far greater danger at her destination, where the real saboteur waits.

“She saw no way out of the trap he had built for her. Escape wasn’t an option. If she attempted to run, he would know that she suspected him, and the game would come to an end. She would lose any chance she had left to expose him, however small.”

Sorcery of Thorns is an enchanting young adult fantasy novel offering adventure, suspense, humour, and romance.

I thought Rogerson did a great job of character development.

Elisabeth quickly sheds the innocence of her sheltered background, but not her idealism. She proves to be intelligent, resourceful and courageous, and is determined to end the threat to Austemeer, no matter the cost to herself.

Nathaniel is a bit of a tortured hero, with a tragic backstory. I particularly enjoyed his sense of humour.

The romance between Elisabeth and Nathaniel is not too rushed, and I found it sweet.

Silas, with his impeccable manners and yellow eyes, almost steals the show.

I loved the world building, the settings are easily imagined, from the home of Nathaniel to the halls, and secret passages, of the Great Library. And what reader can resist the idea of a library where books grumble, and sigh, and sing, and whisper? A book provoked, becomes a Malefict, a terrifying monster that has the potential to maim and kill. Iron and salt are weapons that keep them bound.

“Knowledge always has the potential to be dangerous. It is a more powerful weapon than any sword or spell.”

I was enthralled by the Sorcery of Thorns, though near 500 pages long, I found it a quick read. Charming, exciting and entertaining, the novel is written as a stand alone, but I’d love to return to this world.

Read an Excerpt

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster AU

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review and Giveaway: All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan

 

 

Title: All That Impossible Space

Author: Anna Morgan Twitter I Instagram I Goodreads

Published: June 25th 2019, Lothian Children’s Books

Status: Read June 2019, courtesy Hachette AU

Blurb:

Amelia Westlake meets My Favorite Murder in this debut from a terrific new voice in Australian YA. Combines a realistic story about high school drama and toxic friendship with true crime – the endlessly fascinating Somerton Man or Taman Shud mystery.

15-year-old Lara Laylor feels like supporting character in her own life. She’s Ashley’s best friend, she’s Hannah’s sister-she’s never just Lara.

When new history teacher Mr. Grant gives her an unusual assignment: investigating the mystery of the Somerton Man. Found dead in on an Adelaide beach in 1948, a half-smoked cigarette still in his mouth and the labels cut out of his clothes, the Somerton Man has intrigued people for years. Was he a spy? A criminal? Year 10 has plenty of mysteries of its own: boys, drama queen friends, and enigmatic new students. When they seem just as unsolvable as a 60-year-old cold case, Lara finds herself spending more and more time on the assignment. But Mr Grant himself may be the biggest mystery of all…

Interspersed with fictionalised snapshots of the Somerton Man investigation, ALL THAT IMPOSSIBLE SPACE is a coming of age novel exploring toxic friendships and the balance of power between teacher and student, perfect for fans of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood.

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Anna Morgan’s contemporary young adult novel, All That Impossible Space, is an engaging debut exploring the themes of identity, friendship, family, and coming-of-age, framed by the enigmatic mystery of Somerton Man.

I was vaguely aware of the Somerton Man case before reading All That Impossible Space, and it was one of the main reasons that I was persuaded to read the novel. Given the current popularity of true crime, evidenced by podcasts such as My Favorite Murder (which I personally enjoy), and the plethora of documentaries on streaming services such as Netflix, it’s a savvy inclusion from the author. The Somerton Man case cleverly reflects Lara’s search for her own identity, as someone other than Hannah’s sister, and Ashley’s best friend. This in part explains her attachment to Mr Grant, who as a new teacher has no knowledge of Hannah’s accomplishments, and acknowledges Lara as an individual, rather than part of ‘AshleyandLara’.

I appreciated Morgan’s realistic portrayal of her characters. My teenagers are all of a similar age and I feel Lara, Ashley, Kate and Jos demonstrated appropriate attitudes and behaviours for their age group, which isn’t always the case in young adult fiction.

There would be few among us who wouldn’t be familiar with a ‘friend’ like Ashley, and Morgan skilfully portrays the codependent dynamic of their toxic relationship. I really liked that the author showed how difficult it was for Lara to extricate herself from the situation, struggling with her sense of loyalty to Ashley, and not wanting to hurt her feelings. The author underscores how destructive the friendship is by contrasting it with Lara’s interactions with Kate, the new girl, and Jos, the love interest.

Lara’s issues with her family are relatively benign for the genre, but I liked that Morgan showed that family problems don’t have to be dramatic (eg abuse, drugs, neglect etc) to have an effect on a teen’s sense of self. Lara’s parents are loving but have in a way lost sight of her, focused on her sister’s drama, even in Hannah’s absence. It’s clear Lara misses her sister, who is travelling on a gap year, but is also hurt by Hannah’s lack of communication.

I enjoyed All That Impossible Space, particularly the thoughtful examination of teen friendships and the intriguing study of Somerton Man (be prepared to fall down that rabbithole when you are done reading).

“Tamám Shud”

++++++

Available from Hachette in Paperback and Ebook

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko , or internationally from Book Depository

++++++

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Hachette Austalia , I have

1 print edition of

All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and then

Closed

Congratulations Claire Louisa 

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close July 5th, 2019

The giveaway will be random drawing on July 6th, 2019 and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours

Weekend Cooking: Cake at Midnight by Jessie L. Star

 

Title: Cake at Midnight

Author: Jessie L. Star

Published: January 15th 2018, Simon & Schuster AU

Status: Read May 2019 courtesy Simon & Schuster

++++++

My Thoughts:

An engaging novel of contemporary romance, Cake at Midnight is a story of friendship and love from Australian author, Jessie L. Star.

Giovanna, Zoë and Declan – the baker, the beauty, and the brains- have been best friends since childhood. Now in their early twenties, they have celebrated one another’s successes, and commiserated with one another during times of heartbreak. For years Gio has nursed a crush on Declan who doesn’t mind taking advantage of her slavish devotion when it suits him, much to the growing disgust of Zoe. And after a disastrous not-a-date Gio realises she has let the situation get out of control, and in order to preserve their friendships, decides to cut Declan out of her life for 30 days. It’s not an easy step for Gio to take, not even cake is enough to dull the hurt, but her new neighbour, the enigmatic Theo, might just be exactly what she needs.

I enjoyed the romance in Cake at Midnight, it develops slowly from an odd sort of companionship, to a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, to the beginnings of a real relationship. Despite their very obvious differences, Gio and Theo complement each other well, though of course their path to true love has obstacles to overcome.

But romance is not all Cake at Midnight is about. It’s also about the friendship between Gio, Zoe and Declan and how it has changed over time as they have matured. There is a layer of emotional complexity relating to the family dynamics of Theo, and Declan. It’s also about being true to oneself.

The foodie element of the novel comes from Gio’s love of baking. She works at Pickle, Peach and Plum, an artisanal bakery, as an apprentice pastry chef.

“You’d perhaps think that, working at a bakery, the last thing I’d want to do upon returning home from a gruelling, every-last-swirl-of-ganache-critiqued, constantly-on-my-feet, nine-hour day, was more baking. You’d be wrong. It was like the difference between reading for school and reading for pleasure. I’d certainly always found during my years of education that the chance to chuck aside a textbook and pick up a recipe book had been a welcome one. That was what home baking was like for me.”

The first cake she bakes for Theo, to both apologise and thank him for rescuing her the night her not-a-date with Declan goes badly, is a Dark Chocolate and Rum Cake. She serves him a two-layer Lemon and Cardamom Cake the first time they kiss. The foodie references and metaphors added to the sweetness of Cake at Midnight.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster AU

or from your preferred retailer via Amazon AU I Amazon US 

 

Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

 

Title: Smoke and Iron {The Great Library #4}

Author: Rachel Caine

Published: Berkley July 2018

Status: Read July 2018

++++++

My Thoughts:

Smoke and Iron is another fabulous instalment in Rachel Caine’s The Great Library young adult fantasy series, following Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill.

“The Archivist made us into an ugly thing,… A thing that used fear to control the world. But we are not what he made us. We are more. We stand, unafraid. And together. Because we are the Great Library!”

In a world where book ownership is forbidden, the rebellion determined to free knowledge from the Archivist’s Iron grip, and save The Great Library, is about to spill in to war.

The story picks up almost immediately following the events of Ash and Quill. This instalment unfolds from the viewpoints of Jess, Morgan, Khalila, and Wolfe. While Jess (impersonating his twin brother, Brendan) endeavours to learn the Archivist’s secrets, Morgan has returned to the Obscurist’s Iron Tower seeking vulnerabilities she can exploit. Meanwhile Wolfe struggles to hold onto his sanity deep in the cells of Alexandria, and Khalila does her best to keep her friends, and their mission, safe and on track.

The plot is fast paced and tension filled. Each member of the rebel group has an important part to play in preparation for the coming Feast of Greater Burning, the stakes are higher, and the risks greater, than ever.

The final book in this series, Sword and Pen, is not expected to be published until 2020. Such a long time to wait!

++++++

Available to Purchase from

Penguin US I Murdoch Books AU or your preferred retailer

Review: The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

 

Title: The Map of Bones {The Fire Sermon #2}

Author: Francesca Haig

Published: Harper Voyager March 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 29 to June 01, 2016 — I own a copy courtesy HarperCollins

My Thoughts:

The Map of Bones picks up from where Francesca Haig’s debut novel, The Fire Sermon, left off. Cass, Piper and Zoe are on the run following the deadly confrontation at the Silo between the Confessor and Kip, with the knowledge of the Alpha Council’s horrifying plan for the Omega’s.

Despite the dramatic ending of The Fire Sermon, the narrative in The Map of Bones is slow to start. We’re almost a quarter of the way into the book before Haig introduces a new element to the story that finally prompts the characters to take action. From there the pace begins to pick up as Cass and her allies recognise the need to actively stand against the Council and pursue a new possibility for salvation despite the odds that are stacked again them.

I wasn’t really a fan of Cass in the first novel and I found her to be no less frustrating here. Drowning in guilt and struggling with her visions, her thoughts are often repetitive and circular. Piper and Zoe serve as good companions but I found neither character to be particularly compelling.

What I did admire was Haig’s descriptive writing and continued world building. She provides further detail about the cataclysmic events that destroyed the world and the twinning phenomenon.

Though I found The Map of Bones to be a somewhat dreary read, the story ends on a hopeful note and I am curious to learn how the trilogy will resolve in book three.

Available to purchase from

HarperCollins AU

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Amazon US I Amazon UK

Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

 

Title: Summer Skin

Author: Kirsty Eagar

Published: Allen & Unwin Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 01 to 02, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Summer Skin offers a ‘girl meets boy’ story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the construct to present a love story that honest, unique and relevant.

I found Jess to be a particular refreshing character for the YA/NA genre, though a mess of contradictions, she reflects a realistic young woman still figuring out that life and its challenges are rarely black and white.

Mitch challenges Jess in interesting ways, at first glance he is everything Jess despises – an arrogant rugby playing sexist pig, and she holds tightly to that initial assessment, which she often uses as an excuse and justification throughout their relationship for her own behaviour, even as she learns that Mitch is a much more than that. They both struggle to define their relationship in terms of both their own identities, and each other.

There is real depth to this novel beneath the humor, mischief, drunken revelry, dress up balls, and instagram poses that exemplifies campus life. The author explores modern day feminism and how its meaning varies between individuals, illustrated by the differing attitudes and opinions of Jess and each of her close friends, Farren, Leanne and Allie. She captures the conflict many young women face when negotiating issues of lust, sex and intimacy in the age of the hook-up culture. Eagar also touches on several relevant issues affecting today’s young adults including the use, and abuse of social media, the way in which porn distorts attitudes to sex, the risks of speeding and drink driving, but she never preaches.

Aimed squarely at a mature young adult/new adult audience, Summer Skin is smart, funny, sexy and thought-provoking. There is nothing typical about it.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin  Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US I Book Depository

and all good bookstores.

Also by Kirsty Eagar

@ Goodreads

Review: Night Study by Maria V Snyder

 

Title: Night Study {Soulfinders #2; Study#5; The Chronicles of Ixia #9}

Author: Maria V Snyder

Published: Harlequin MIRA Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 25 to 26, 2016 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Shadow Study ended on a cliffhanger so I’ve been looking forward to Night Study, the second installment in the Soulfinders trilogy, the fifth book in the ‘Study’ series, and the eighth installment in ‘The Chronicles of Ixia’ series.

I don’t want to spoil the many surprises Night Study has in store for fans with a lot of personal upheaval for Yelena and Valek against the background of escalating tension between Sitia and Ixia.

Perhaps it’s enough to say there is plenty of excitement and action – a terrible conspiracy is discovered, and there are some game changing moments for several of the characters. I raced through the book caught up in the adventure and mystery, entertained by the humour and made breathless by the emotion.

A great read for fans like myself, I’m looking forward to (and slightly dreading) the epic conclusion in Dawn Study.

Available via

Harlequin US I Amazon US I BookDepository I Indie Bound

Booko

also reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Poison Study Magic Study Fire Study

Review: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

 

Title: The Iron Warrior {The Call of the Forgotten #3; The Iron Fey #7}

Author: Julie Kagawa

Published: Mira Ink November 2015

Status: Read from November 04 to 07, 2015

My Thoughts:
The third and final installment in the Call of the Forgotten Trilogy, The Iron Warrior reveals not only Ethan’s fate (after the cliffhanger ending in The Iron Traitor), but also the fate of NeverNever as it is called to war.

Drama and action abound as the Iron Prince (the errant son of Meghan and Ash) declares war against the Fae as the champion of The Forgotten, threatening not only to tear apart the NeverNever but also the human world. Ethan, with the help of Kenzie and many of the Iron Fey series beloved characters including Puck and Grimalkin, is determined not only to save faery but also his nephew. The quest sees our heroes travel through perilous regions of the Nevernever, the Between and the Dark Wyld, culminating is a heart-stopping showdown.

Though I have to confess I felt the overall resolution of this specific trilogy plot was a bit lacklustre, The Iron Warrior is a satisfying ending to the Iron Fey series and I’m looking forward to Kagawa’s next work.

Available to Purchase from

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Amazon US I Amazon UKBookDepository


A thought about: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

 

Title: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: Pan Macmillan October 2015

Status: Read from October 08 to 10, 2015 — I own a copy

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts:

In Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl, the central protagonist, Cath, wrote fan fiction about a fictional novel with strong similarities to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series . I have to admit I wasn’t really keen on the excerpts in the novel, but I was curious to see how Rowell turned the story into a novel. Carry On turned out to be a lot of fun, I enjoyed the characters and their adventures, and Rowell’s own twists to a very familiar story.

 

Carry On is available via

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Amazon US I Amazon UK I BookDepository

 

 

Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

 

Title: Night Owls

Author: Jenn Bennett

Published: Simon & Schuster September 2015

Status: Read on October 01, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Night Owls is a charming contemporary young adult novel from Jenn Bennet.

When aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix Adams meets a handsome teenage boy while waiting for San Francisco’s owl bus, she’s surprised to learn he is responsible for the stunning word graffiti that has the city in an uproar. Busy putting together an entry for an art contest, and her summer job, Bex doesn’t expect to see him again, but after Jack makes a grand gesture on her birthday, everything changes.

The romance between Jack and Beatrix is sweet and gentle. I liked the way Bennett developed their relationship, and even though the time-frame was fairly short, I believed in their progression. I enjoyed their banter during their first meetings and later, the support they offered each other. I was a little surprised by the sexual intimacy, but I think it was beautifully written.

The connection Bex and Jack make through their art is an important part of Night Owls. I love that Bex is an aspiring medical illustrator, it’s such a unique choice and I really like the way Bennett worked the idea throughout the novel. Jack’s graffiti art is intensely personal, and his motive very touching.

Though the romance between Bex and Jack is a major element of the story, Bennett also explores several important themes including divorce and mental illness. Bex and Jack’s family’s are very much a part of the story. Bex is close to her older brother Heath and her single mother but she is estranged from her father who left the family after an affair and is unsure when he reaches out to her. Jack’s family situation is also complicated though in an entirely different, and heartbreaking way.

A witty, stirring, and poignant story about love, family, art and heart, Night Owls is beautifully written.

“BEGIN, FLY, BELONG, JUMP, TRUST, BLOOM, CELEBRATE, ENDURE, RISE, LOVE”

Night Owls is available via

Simon & Schuster Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

I Amazon UK I Book Depository Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

* Also published  as The Anatomical Shape of the Heart

Click HERE for  FREE exclusive content

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