‘A Hint Of Hope’ is the second prequel in the Towers of the Earth Fantasy series. I loved being back with Magda and Ascara, as they join with pirates to free thousands of captured slaves from a tyrannical regime – and in the process try to capture the world’s most advanced airship. The mixture of steampunk, the gifted with special powers and an exciting adventure had me hooked from the start. We get to find out more about the world they inhabit and about the people living in it. The more I find out the more I want to know. This enthralling story was full of wonder and imagination and it has made me desperate to find out what comes next for the pair. Roll on the next instalment.
‘Silver Beasts’ is the story of four teenagers chosen to represent their respective counties at the Hall of Explorers, a prestigious training academy. Their aim is to learn all they can before they leave for new lands, where they hope to find a way to escape the silver beasts that threaten their very existence. Cavarra has been blighted by these insects, mutated into metal by absorbing magic. Avelynne, Hale, Sabina and Eleksander must work hard if they are to save their people. Do they have what it takes? And is everything quite as clear cut as they are lead to believe?
This story had impressive world-building, magic, a steampunky vibe and mysteries and secrets that kept me engrossed. But it was also about finding out the truth and discovering who they really were and what they were capable of. The young people began to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I liked seeing how they they grew in confidence and changed as they got to know each other. The writing was skilled and imaginative and I really enjoyed being in Cavarra for a few hours.
It’s obviously the first in a series and left me keen to find out what happens next. I hope Emma Sterner-Radley doesn’t keep us waiting too long.
‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones is a historical fiction story, set in a land where magic and mystery has its place. Told from the point of view of a teenage servant girl, it lets the reader see all echelons of society, and how they deal with an impending flood – and the serious health and societal implications it brings. Roz was dismissed from her previous job as a laundry maid after being reported for indulging in indecent acts with another young woman. What looks like the worst thing that could happen turns out to be the start of a new life, with its share of challenges – but with new friends and a new purpose.
I was transported to another place and time by the author. Heather Rose Jones has a talent for meticulous world-building and her writing shows intelligence and a flair for her craft. The story was beautifully teased out, with secrets we get to know as Roz does. Roz was an interesting character. She knew what she could expect from life but there were some things she was willing to defy expectations for. And that could get her into a lot of trouble. Liking girls was always going to be a problem – but she wasn’t the only one. The hierarchy of society was integral to this story, and adding that to the idea of charms and mysteries made it a fascinating read. The word that comes to mind when finishing this book is exquisite. I loved it.
‘The Book Witch’ is funny, quirky and full of surprising twists. The first book in the series ‘The Book Addict’ introduced us to Elle and Tanya, who are now all loved-up. When Imara, a book witch with the power to bring characters to life, appears in town things begin to get exciting again. She wants to help Jai, a local teacher, find love at last. But she needs her friends to help. Things are never that simple though and enemies, old and new, try to put a spoke in the machine.
Ms Mori uses some unique plot devices to take this story in very unexpected directions. Fans of the author will be thrilled to find some of their favourite characters from other series turn up. This really worked for me. In a book about the supernatural I was was surprised to find myself suspending belief and really going with the premise. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if book witches did exist and our beloved characters came to life? This was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read and I salute the imagination of Annette Mori.
‘Spencer’s Cove’ is a fantastical tale of witches, good and evil and ultimately love. Foster Owen, a mystery novelist with a serious case of writer’s block, is given a lifeline when a job comes up to ghost write a family memoir for Abigail Spencer. Abby has inherited her family’s mansion on the Pacific Coast and on first meeting she is a shy, frightened rabbit of a woman. When Foster starts looking into the family’s past some very interesting stories emerge and she is intrigued. Just when I thought I knew where this story was going and who everyone was, Missouri Vaun took me on a ride that totally exceeded my expectations. Seeing changes in Abby was enlightening and Foster had a lot to do with that. She was a beautifully envisaged soft butch – and who could blame Abby for being attracted to her? The novel had some amazingly strong women and a feeling of camaraderie and power that appealed to me so much. I loved the mixture of the historical research Foster was undertaking and the present day story that stemmed from it. It was a magical tale and I absolutely adored it. Highly recommended.
I was given this ARC by Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books to review.
’The Book Addict’ is a quirky story with an unusual premise and lots of fun. I wouldn’t expect any less from the inimitable Annette Mori. Tanya is a quiet book nerd and severely lacks confidence. When a new bookstore opens in town she is first in line and finds herself drawn to the owner. Elle is a magician and her role in life is to find book lovers who would benefit from an adventure inside their favourite stories. And Tanya is her latest project. Things don’t run smoothly though as Elle and Tanya find themselves embroiled in wizard politics and a fight for what is right.
I enjoyed the magical element of the book and the idea was something I’d never come across. It was intriguing. Tanya was so unsure of herself but she was an amazing woman underneath – she just needed someone to show her. Elle could see all of that and I loved how she tried to get the best out of Tanya. The various other enchanting characters around them were equally fascinating. Some were hilarious, some downright wicked. A lovely story with a feel-good factor.
‘Frozen Dreams’ by Liz McMullen is a beautifully told tale of magic, friendship and love that tugged at my heartstrings from the start. My favourite character, Azure, has had her true path in life robbed from her and her faerie godmother of sorts, Ezra-Elle is determined to get it back for her. Azure has lived a solitary life and is afraid her powers will hurt those she loves. When she is pushed towards Charlie she begins to question what she really wants. In this story one is never sure of people’s motivations. Are they on the level or playing a game? As they are operating in a world of magic, some white and some purely evil it should be easy to tell but it is not at all. Ms McMullen has woven a tale full of surprises and subterfuge and I was fooled more than once. Her characterisation is top-notch and made the women come to life in a very impressive way. I felt every emotion with them – the heartache and despair as well as intense love and passion. She made me feel I know these women. This is one series I would love to see filmed as the characters are so vivid and alive. A great read.