Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.
This was one of my MOST anticipated books of the year! My Morton ladies and I couldn’t stop flailing about it on twitter and via text, and The Lake House more than lived up to the wait.
Kate Morton is an auto-buy author for me. Her style is so consistently excellent that it’s more a matter of ranking her books from most favorite to still excellent, rather than least favorite. I love that you know what you’re getting when you read a Kate Morton book on one hand (a suspenseful dual timeline mystery, intricate plotting, lush historical setting, lots of secrets and twists, tragic relationships) but that they feel unique and surprising at the same time. She has an exquisite way with words, of capturing feelings and emotions and of doling out the right helping of intrigue at the right time, and her books stay with you long after you’ve read them.
The Lake House was not my favorite Morton book- for whatever reason I didn’t connect as much with Sadie and her story, which is why it’s not a perfect 5 for me. Sadie felt distant and reserved. But I adored the past storyline, both on its own and how it tied in with the present. And Alice was really interesting; all her authorial writing advice felt very meta! There were actually a few narrators, which was also different from other Morton books. I thought I had the characters pegged and then they would go and surprise me. I particularly fell in love with Eleanor and the many facets of her personality. I also enjoyed the lushness of the English countryside life between the wars. I felt like I was there in the manicured gardens and the charming Lake House, overhearing adult conversations in the stifling boathouse with my heart racing the entire time! It was just as easy to imagine the layers of dust and time in the crumbling house once Sadie stumbled upon it.
The mystery of the 1930’s storyline, both how it tied in to the parallel story and how it actually unfolded was heartbreaking and fabulous. Very compelling and hard to pin down. Just when you think the twist is going one way, she U turns and heads the other direction!
It never feels trite or manipulative either; the intricacies of her plotting and reveals are second to none. The end did feel a bit more saccharine than some of her other books but it was satisfying in its own way. You’ll definitely want to get swept away by The Lake House this fall!
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
I almost fell out of my chair when I first heard the pitch for First & Then: Friday Night Lights meets Pride & Prejudice, aka two of my very favorite things! I’m happy to say that the story lived up to every bit of its pitch, which was a relief and so very awesome.
The first chapter is a bit ho-hum, but once I got past that I flew through the book in a day. I felt like I was transported back to my high school, all the worries I had about college, my secret not-so-secret crush on my friend, the hierarchy of the student body and fitting in. Emma Mills really captures that slice of high school life in a familiar, endearing way. It felt hip but not dated and I enjoyed Devon’s voice a lot.
My favorite part of the book was of course the characters. I feel like the adults could have been fleshed out more; they were pretty standard and cardboard. And there were some emotional, traumatic situations so I would have appreciated a little more nuance from the adults. But otherwise, I loved every single character. Each teen has layers to their personality and lots going on under the surface. The book digs deeper than I would have expected.
Foster might seem annoying at first but he’s perceptive and blossoms as the story progresses. Jordan is the super popular, cute football player, but he’s actually really nice and a good friend. Marabelle is a quirky pregnant teen (that isn’t ridiculed, huzzah) and reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood. And Ezra. Oh Ezra. The most Darcy-ish not-Mr. Darcy I’ve ever met. I loved watching him open up! Even the peripheral characters managed to capture a wide swath of the high school social scene and prove that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Plus all the football was really fun.
This brings me to my other favorite part of the book: picking out the Pride and Prejudice references! It’s a really cute book even if you haven’t read/seen anything Jane Austen but the experience is vastly improved if you have. Devon is constantly waxing poetic about Jane and her writing, her romantic sensibilities, and she even references Sense & Sensibility many times. Plus there are parties and dances of course!
Not all of the characters lined up perfectly, but Devon is clearly the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennett and Ezra is the proud Mr. Darcy, and they played their parts to a T. Devon is by no means a mean person, but she is sheltered and judgmental, and she goes on this amazing character arc that felt very satisfying and believable. I especially loved her complicated relationship with her cousin Foster (much improved on Mr. Collins!), and their joint friendship with Ezra.
My main complaint is that Devon complains about a lack of kissing in Jane’s books, which is ironic because I would love just a few pages more of First & Then! It’s a slow burn and while I didn’t get major swoons, I loved Ezra and Devon together. They have this chemistry and regard for one another that just felt… right. Meant to be. Which is how I feel about Mr. Darcy and Lizzie.
If you love football, Jane Austen, banter, evolving high school friendships, and a touch of romance, you’ll fall in love with First & Then like I did. It’s a perfect book for fall!
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.
But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?
Thank you Sourcebooks and Netgalley! This was adorable; I really liked Maya’s vibe, all the music, and her relationship with Jesse. It was great to see how they progressed over days/weeks/months and felt believable despite his celebrity status. I especially loved their Ferris Bueller day!! And her friend Dave. And SAM AND JORDAN!! It got a little cheesy in the second half but I read it in an afternoon so I obviously enjoyed it :) Her family was wonderful and it was a great summer read. “You know I wish that I had Jesse’s girl…”
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
I really loved this, I’m so glad I gave it a chance!! I had a few issues but overall I thought it was wonderful. While I certainly understand the comparisons to the Lunar Chronicles, Stitching Snow is unique and stands on its own, while still being perfect for fans of that series. Essie is self-sufficient, badass, and brave (she cage fights!) and I loved the droids, especially Dimwit. I also loved learning about Essie’s past, and Essie’s relationship with Dane (total hate-to-love). They learn to work together and trust each other despite many obstacles. The setting and worldbuilding was extensive but not confusing, the villains were disturbing, and I loved all the Snow White allusions throughout the story. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of Cinder, fairy tale retellings, sci fi, awesome characters, and standalones! (Reading Challenges: FairytaleRC, 365 Days of YA)
"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
Thank you Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley! Serafina was a great surprise. I loved the writing and the atmosphere of the Biltmore Estate and surrounding grounds. For some reason I thought the book would be set in England but it was set in the South which added a lot of grit and character to the story, as well as Serafina herself. The Chief Rat Catcher! The book starts off on a unique and macabre note, it was fantastic. I loved that it was a historical fiction mystery mixed with the supernatural. It was engaging, well-written, scary, mysterious, and captivating. The word choice and vocab was interesting and one of the things I enjoyed most. I also loved the graveyard scene in the woods. “Rest in peace and don’t return.” So creepy!
Serafina’s friendship with Braeden was really wonderful; I liked getting to see her open up and work together while still keeping the essence of herself and her bravery. My only caveat was that the ending seemed abrupt, a little too tied in a bow. I thought there would be more of a giant struggle with the antagonist, or some consequences for Sera and her father. But it actually made it better for its intended MG audience. I would recommend this book without hesitation to people who enjoy historical fiction, mysteries creepy supernatural stories, friendship, brave and resourceful girls, and grand old-fashioned storytelling.
About Miranda Kenneally
Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit www.mirandakenneally.com
In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.
When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.
Thank you to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title.
Confession: I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables although my mom tried to get me to watch Avonlea as a child. But I always meant to and I like to read retellings and modern twists on stories. I was drawn to Ana of California by the premise, as well as the lush summer feel of the cover. Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me and I wasn’t able to finish, but I can definitely see it working for the right reader!
The writing was lovely; I really loved the descriptions of Garber Farm and Hadley. Living in Northern California, I’ve seen similar small communities and can picture the quaintess of the town. And the delightful description of Abbie’s kitchen reminded me of a rustic Pinterest wedding or an HGTV kitchen! Well-built, farm chic, and cozy. Abbie was my favorite character; she had an interesting backstory and lots of warmth, while I didn’t feel like we got to know Emmett as well.
I had mixed feelings about Ana. I appreciated her story and learning about her difficult life and her attempt to make Garber Farms a good situation. But the way she talked confused me; she sounded naive and too adult all at once. It was the way she spoke and her choice of words, but maybe that came from all her time spent in the library. And the extreme politeness seems like a product of her experience in the foster home system. But something about her speech didn’t ring true to me, sounding weirdly poetic. I liked her as a character though! And I liked her willingness to work hard and open up to new people.
This is a slower-paced, read-it-on-the-beach-or-back-porch kind of novel, which is perfect for summer. I had some trouble connecting emotionally with the characters but I think readers looking for diversity mixed with nostalgia for an old favorite wrapped in picturesque writing will enjoy Ana of California. I hope the book will work for you if you decide to give it a try!
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
I loved Sharon Cameron’s debut The Dark Unwinding and its sequel, A Spark Unseen, so I was sure I would love Rook too! It’s a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling set in an alternate Parisian dystopian future that reads more like historical fiction- it feels like the French Revolution. In other words, it’s very unique and very wonderful.
The pacing plods a bit in the middle but for the most part the adventure is thrilling, the stakes are impossibly high, and the romance is swoonworthy. Sophia is an exemplary heroine who is at once easy to relate to and braver than I could ever be. The cat-and-mouse game throughout the book led so much tension to the story as well! You never knew who you could trust and that made it exciting.
The world building also made a lot of sense and I like how we slowly learned more about the world of Rook as the story progressed. It takes place about 1,000 years after the modern day; polar shifts caused massive solar radiation and the elimination of all things digital and electronic, including satellites crashing to Earth. They refer to this period as the Time Before, and to “us” as the Ancients. Parts of the story take place in the Commonwealth and the rest in the Sunken City (aka Paris).
I wanted to highlight some of my favorite quotes that illustrate this unique otherness of a future historical.
“Tom’s sanctuary, as he called it, deep beneath Bellamy House, a room that was nothing but Ancient. Light moved over walls tiled with white and artificial red- the red seen only in artifacts from the Time Before- arched doorways block with gray stone…” p. 70, finished copy
In this same chapter King’s Cross is mentioned (p.74) and the fact that Bellamy House was built on top of a town or city before the cliffs existed, which leads me to believe this is in fact London! And that his hideout is a former Underground station!
“He thought the cross and brightly colored pieces were meant to be pushed, though for what purpose neither of them could imagine and he’d had no success looking for the word ‘Nintendo’ in the university archives. It was beautifully worked, though. Like a piece of art.” p. 71, finished copy
This made me giggle and I read it aloud to my husband- it’s a video game controller! From the more detailed description, I think it’s an N64 controller.
It was really fun to pick out all of these allusions to very common place things in our society- including magic disks with thousands of pictures hidden inside. It helped remind me that this was in fact, a future setting because the 18th century French historical aspects were so convincingly well-done.
And just for funsies, I had to cast Sophia Bellamy, her brother Tom, and the striking Rene Hasard!
Minka Kelly as Sophia Bellamy: Sophia is described as an 18 year old with caramel skin, deep brown eyes, and soft brown curls, not to mention a hell of a lot of gumption.
Sam Claflin as Tom Bellamy: Tom looks just like his sister, so much so that they could be twins.
Gabriel Aubrey (with a little color correction) as Rene Hasard: Rene is a bit older than Sophia with dark russet hair and very blue eyes.
A second excellent choice would be Sam Heughan but he’s busy being everyone’s favorite Scot Jamie Fraser. This picture of Sam and Catriona Balfe does remind me of Sophie and Rene, however! Mainly the chemistry and expressions; they capture their spirit so well.
If you love great storytelling, strong and secretive characters, romantic sizzle, historical France, or spy adventures, you have to read Rook!
Have any of you read Rook? Do you plan to? Let me know!
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.
Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.
Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.
But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
Thank you so much to Virginia Boecker and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the ARC! Receiving it/knowing the author in no way influenced my opinions or review.
You guys, I LOVED this book! The Witch Hunter was lots of fun to read. It’s fantastic historical fantasy for fans of both genres with a surprising amount of humor mixed in with the darkness and magic, and of course a bit of romance! The book was exciting and a little predictable, but not necessarily in a bad way. More in that “”I love books like this”” kind of way. It’s a fast paced, atmospheric story with awesome characters that I was easily sucked into. There isn’t a ton of romance but it looks like there will be more in book 2 (it’s a duology).
A lot of the dialogue was much more sassy and humorous that I expected, but it never took away from the fantastic tension or spooky setting. I loved the curses and magic, as well as watching Elizabeth realize that her absolute views on wizards and witch hunting might not be so absolute after all. The characters all have this fascinating dynamic; I particularly loved John, George, and Elizabeth herself. I also loved the mysterious tomb! I need to know more!!!!
It also has a great historical feel to it, with names and concepts familiar to fans of English and European history twisted to fit this alternate version of 16th century England. For example, a magical reformation instead of the Protestant Reformation, Anglia and Gaul instead of England and France. And there are hidden history jokes too! Whenever I spotted one I giggled to myself like the history nerd that I am.
The Witch Hunter is not an epic fantasy so the Game of Thrones comparison seems like yet another marketing ploy. BUT it is a fantastic historical fantasy for fans of both genres, and for reluctant fantasy readers as well. It has just the right amount of magic and fantasy mixed with the alternate historical setting. I could see the Graceling and Throne of Glass comparions, as well as comparisons to Chantress. It might be for fans of Grave Mercy too but I haven’t read that yet (I know, I know!). I read The Witch Hunter way back in January and I’m anxiously awaiting my pre-ordered finished copy so I can read it again!
Bottom line: with strong world building and an exciting set-up, fans of historical fantasy will be clamoring for more of Elizabeth’s adventures in this darkly magical alternate England.
"Ignorance is bliss…until there's blood involved."
Drenched in blood and sitting in the sweltering interview room of a Thai police station, Kayla Finch knows that Sam, the love of her life, is dead. It doesn't matter that there's no body. All that blood can mean only one thing.
It isn't the first time Kayla's had blood on her hands. After finding her brother dead by his own hand, she tried to outrun her grief by escaping to Thailand. Heartbroken, the last thing she expected was to find love on the smoggy streets of Bangkok. But everyone Kayla loves seems to wind up dead.
Returning home to England, Kayla is left with a barely-functioning family, a string of gruesome nightmares, and the niggling feeling that nothing is as it seems. And as she confronts her brother's suicide, she starts to suspect that something is very wrong.
Three months. Two tragedies. One connection: there's more to both cases than anyone is willing to admit. And Kayla's determined to uncover the truth…no matter what the cost.
First of all, if you love twisty, intense psychological thrillers, you must read Run Away! It was definitely out of my reading comfort zone and while I had a few personal issues with it, I’m glad I read it.
The opening is straight up fantastic- it’s descriptive, intense, and filled with suspense. I could feel Kayla’s distress, see the blood drenched carpet, feel her anxiety at being questions by Thai police. It definitely grabbed my attention.
I loved the structure of the book with alternating past and present chapters. They go from Kayla currently in England to her experiences three months earlier in Thailand. It kept me turning the pages, always on a cliffhanger. I’m not sure I would say that I connected with any of the characters, but Kayla and her friends had a good dynamic and I liked the diversity of the group.
One surprise is that the language was not Americanized at all, it’s very British (the author is from England). I liked the added authenticity but didn’t expect it for some reason! I was also surprised at how crass the language was at parts, in a rather descriptive way. There was also heavy mention of suicide, drugs, sex, attempted rape, and debilitating illnesses- it was very NA and not my usual cup of tea. However, Laura Salters is such a brilliant writer that it made me want to figure out how the mystery was going to unfold because let me tell you, I had NO idea how it all fit together. And I always love that. I absolutely raced through the last 25% of the book.
In a nutshell: If you are a fan of mysteries, psychological thrillers, world travel (Thailand in particular), twists, and heavy themes/elements, you will really enjoy Run Away! And just throwing it out there: people named Oliver are the worst (see also: The OC).
The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.
Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.
Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?
First off, this is such a hard review to write without spoilers because I want to talk about EVERYTHING!!! *Ahem*
Lion Heart was everything the last book in a trilogy should be. It was epic in scope and emotion, it was fast paced but let you savor the special moments, and it brought a sense of closure. I love these characters fiercely and they go through hell AND high water to get to where they are but it makes their journey that much more amazing to read. Plus I loved the addition of new secondary characters, especially the banter between Allan and David.
I really love that this trilogy is a historical fiction retelling of a very popular legend. I love English history and Robin Hood is always fascinating. I love how AC Gaughen twisted it to make Scarlet such a powerful, important female figure in the myth. I’ll admit to have trouble not picturing Prince John as a lion though. Too many viewings of the Disney movie I guess!
I don’t want to spoil anything but if you haven’t read this series, you need to. The language takes some getting used to but it adds such an authentic flavor to the story. And the characters are simply amazing. Scarlet is one of a kind.
(Totally Scarlet, except she needs more knives.)
There is a lot of heartbreak but there’s also healing, hope, strength, dresses with space for hidden knives, and KISSING. Lots of kissing!
(If you only knew how badly I wanted that firefly ring when I was younger…)
I do wish that there was one more chapter or epilogue to tie up a few threads but I was satisfied for the most part with where Scarlet’s story is left. If you enjoy lots of deep emotion and shippy goodness, vile antagonists, and historical fiction, you must read the Scarlet trilogy. Lion Heart might be my favorite of them all.
Kathy Dawson Books is pleased to announce a rich medieval fantasy novel from an author whose work has been called “TRULY ORIGINAL . . . FANTASY AT ITS BEST.”
In the Time of Dragon Moon
A perfectly crafted combination of medieval history, mythology, and fantasy, set on Wilde Island, featuring Uma Quarteney - a half Euit and half English girl, who has never been fully accepted by her Euit tribe - and Jackrun Pendragon - a fiery dragonrider with dragon, fairy, and human blood.
Beware the dark moon time when love and murder intertwine
All Uma wants is to become a healer like her father and be accepted by her tribe. But when the mad queen abducts her and takes her north, Uma’s told she must use her healing skills to cure the aging infertile queen by Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake. Uma soon learns the queen isn’t the only danger she’s up against. A hidden killer out for royal blood slays the royal heir. The murder is made to look like an accident, but Uma, and the king’s nephew Jackrun, sense the darker truth. Together, they must use their combined powers to outwit a secret plot to overthrow the Pendragon throne. But are they strong enough to overcome a murderer aided by prophecy and cloaked in magic?
In the Time of Dragon Moon -- a tale of Love Magic and Murder
Praise for Janet Lee Carey’s new Fantasy
"The author’s world-building is detailed and fascinating, and Uma is a strong, admirable heroine. This is a must-purchase for libraries owning the earlier installments and a great choice for where teen fantasy is popular." –School Library Journal
"Humans, dragons and fey coexist on Wilde Island, but this uneasy peace masks a simmering, mutual distrust that surfaces after the English army abducts an Euit healer and his daughter to cure the aging queen's infertility—failure is not an option." –Kirkus Review
"In the Time of Dragon Moon is a story of courage and romance that readers will not soon forget. While Uma’s struggle to help the queen and save her people is intriguing, the depth of her character reaches much further, exploring issues of race, gender, and identity. The politics of Pendragon Castle and Wilde Island offer gripping mystery and adventure, while Uma’s relationship with Jackrun—and even her interactions with her father’s dragon, Vazan—create a rich and insightful protagonist. The text will be a sure favorite of fans of high fantasy." —Meghann Meeusen. VOYA review
Praise for first two books of the Wilde Island trilogy; Dragon’s Keep and Dragonswood
~ALA Best Book for Young Adults
“A remarkable achievement.” –Lloyd Alexander, author of the Newbery Medal winner The High King
“Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger.” –School Library Journal, starred review
Thank you so much to Rockstar Book Tours, Kathy Dawson Books, and Janet Lee Carey for providing me with an arc to review!
In The Time of Dragon Moon was everything a fantasy book should be. It had magic, romance, action, and betrayal all wrapped in an engrossing fairy tale. It was also powerfully and beautifully written. I only wish the arc had a map for me to consult (but the finished copy will have one!). In the Time of Dragon Moon is actually sequel to Dragonswood, a gem that I found in the library one afternoon not knowing much about it. You can certainly read Dragon Moon separately and nothing about the story is diminished. However reading Dragonswood first adds so much nuance and history to the world and characters.
It’s set in this really interesting alternate medieval England ruled by the Pendragon family, who I believe are supposed to be descended from King Arthur. There are three islands that make up the country, along with fairies, dragons, and a native population, all of whom coexist uneasily with the English. It creates this environment rife with political and cultural tension, as well as lots of exhilarating action and sneaky character motives.
I loved Uma. She was such a strong, interesting character caught between two worlds in more ways than one. The pull between her English and Euit sides, and the pull between her womanhood and being a healer in her culture gave her this fascinating character arc. I liked watching her reconcile her fears and dreams and finding a path to follow that made her happy. I liked learning about the Euit culture, especially the animal moons and how they affected life. And her relationship with Queen Adela was chilling. It was filled with hated and mistrust along with sympathy and pity, her healer’s oath warring with her real feelings about the queen. But most of all I loved her relationship with Jackrun. They were both outcasts in a sense for different reasons and watching them learn to trust each other, to build a friendship, and the way Jackrun continually stood up for Uma while also respecting and nurturing her was wonderful. I looooved Jackrun!
My favorite part of the story was how Janet Lee Carey wove her unique dragon mythology into her alternate medieval setting. There are different types of dragons with their own dragon culture, some of whom treat with humans, some who won’t. And in the Pendragon bloodline, humans can be born with dragon scales and dragon traits. The fairies are less unique but no less interesting. They are magnanimous and beautiful and frightening. I loved the intermixing of species and cultures in the story; they each had their own part to play.
This book was just a wonderful concoction of history, magic, passion, brutality, forgiveness, love, and fantasy creatures. And even a murder mystery, I always love seeing how those are pieced together. If you enjoy lyrical prose, a fascinating cast of characters, rich worldbuilding, slow burn romance, and dragons, you have to read In The Time of Dragon Moon!
2 winners! One will win a Signed copy of In The Time of Dragon Moon and Dragon Moon mug and one will win a Signed copy of In The Time of Dragon Moon and Dragon Moon mouse pad. US and Canada Only.
Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets in the wind. When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a mermaid (this never happened).She also dreamed of becoming a published writer (this did happen after many years of rejection). She is now an award-winning author of nine novels for children and teens. Her Wilde Island Chronicles are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She won the 2005 Mark Twain Award and was finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons. She writes daily with her imperious cat, Uke, seated on her lap. Uke is jealous of the keyboard. If Janet truly understood her place in the world, she would reserve her fingers for the sole purpose of scratching behind Uke’s ear, but humans are very hard to train. Author photo credit Heidi Pettit.
In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves "The Wild Swans," "The Goose Girl," and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to Enchanted and Hero.
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?
Dearest by Alethea Kontis is the 3rd book in the Woodcutter Sisters series and my favorite so far! I loved Friday Woodcutter and picking out the fairy tale influences in the story, from Peter Pan (her darlings!) to Rapunzel to the six swans.
I also liked how closely it related to the other two books though I had trouble recalling some of the incidents. I can’t wait to get the rest of the sister’ stories- Thursday the Pirate Queen is next! If you like sweetness, irreverent humor, fairy tale mashups, and romance you’ll enjoy the series. It requires suspension of disbelief in that fairy tale way but that’s part of the charm.
Even though Cornelius is a fairy, this reminded me of Friday and Tristan while I read :)
Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
She’s the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
As with most fantasy books I read, The Sin Eater’s Daughter was a bit hard to follow in the first chapter but very intriguing. I loved the world building and the descriptions- lots of vivid and dark sensory details. I also became quickly attached to Twylla and loved the unique concept of her role as the court executioner.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter is original, lush, twisty, tense and dangerous with a hint of the best fantasy tropes that we all love. I am not one to throw around comparisons lightly because it’s so easy to get burned, but I really feel like fans of Throne of Glass and Girl of Fire and Thorns would enjoy this new series.
I also appreciated that the marketing department didn’t compare it to Game of Thrones at all; it’s tired and often misleading. Ironically I did see shades of GoT in the story, including one horrifying scene that fans of the show will be able to spot. There are a few disturbing incidences in fact. And the Queen reminded me so much of Cersei Lannister while still being her own brand of twisted evil, which is frightening. She’s like a coiled snake waiting to strike, full of venom and self-righteousness.
I loved the beginning and end of the novel, but the middle lost me for a couple chapters. I was not a big fan of how the romance developed despite liking and caring for the characters. It was building with delicious tension and then moved way too fast from an emotional perspective. I won’t say more for spoiler reasons but this is the main reason I knocked off a star.
Odds and ends: there’s a lost kingdom!!! I really enjoyed the history of the land and the description of Loremere reminds me of Helms Deep. I LOVE legends in fantasy novels and need to know more about The Sleeping Prince! I loved the king. I loved the magic and tension and feeling of danger. And just when you think you’ve figured something out, HOLY PLOT TWIST(S) BATMAN! I can’t wait to see where Book 2 goes.
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right--and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.
While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den--literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again...
To start off, I loved Every Breath (5 stars) and read the sequel Every Word IN A DAY. I ordered it from the Australian publisher because there was no way I could wait for the September US release date! My immediate reaction? “Heart wrenching and LONDON and duuuude some fiery hot scenes like whoa.” So yes. Read this immensely clever Aussie series with complex characters, an excellent mystery, tension, great friends, and a ship the size of the Titanic. WATTSCROFT. Seriously, their chemistry is electric. Which brings me to this song:
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
I heard it on the radio. I liked it. I Shazaamed it. I bought it. I now listen to it 10 times a day because I’m OBSESSED. It’s so dancy and fun and upbeat, and I love the 80s vibe and the lyrics and just how happy this song makes me feel!!
And somehow, all I could picture in my head while driving home one day was an awards event where Mycroft was being honored. A crowded room with an open dance floor, with Rachel in a black dress not caring for once and just enjoying herself. Maybe dancing with her friend Alicia. And Mycroft on the other side of the room with his curly black hair, in a white button down shirt and slacks, a giant grin slowly spreading across his face as he stares at Rachel dancing. She catches his eye and beckons him to come over, Mycroft shaking his head with a smile, and Rachel runs over to grab him by the arm and drag him to her. They jump around and spin to the music, grinning, as Mycroft slides his hands around her waist and pulls her close. And then they share a mind meltingly hot kiss. Oh look at that, I just wrote Wattscroft fanfic in my head BECAUSE OF THIS SONG. You’re welcome.
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.
This was my favorite Finishing School book yet! If you’re not familiar, Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series is YA that is set 25 years before her adult series the Parasol Protectorate. Both series can be best described as an Austenesque comedy of manners with supernatural creatures, alternate Victorian history and steampunk elements. They are all wickedly funny, entertaining, charmingly clever books. There will be 4 books in the Finishing School series, Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies being the first two. It’s not a requirement to read the adult series, which starts with Soulless, but it’s also excellent and adds a lot of fun easter eggs to Sophronia’s story.
Sophronia continues to be a delight in the third installment- she is extremely smart, pragmatic, and a lot of fun. I loooved the adventure in Waistcoats & Weaponry (half of the book is not at school!) and I love the friendships and banter between Sophronia and her band of friends. And Soap! He gets more shippable with every book. I also love how vampires and werewolves fit into the story because it’s very unique compared to most paranormal books. Plus the historical element is really excellent- it’s set in an alternate 1850’s Victorian England.
I always get a little confused by the particulars of the steampunk technology, the dirigibles and valves and whatnot, but it never takes away from my enjoyment. I just skim the technical bits a little ;) But I really like how each book is connecting and I can see more than ever how it will link up with the Parasol Protectorate. There is a HUGE connection I didn’t make until this book! I did miss Lord Akeldama and Vieve but hopefully they’ll be in the next one. The ending was so exciting and tense, I almost cried!
This is such a great series, I love Gail Carriger’s writing so much. It’s humorous and silly and heartfelt and proper and irreverant all at once. Plus the mixture of Victorian with humorous paranormal elements is such an unusual yet perfect match. I’m dying for Manners & Mutiny now, can’t believe we have to wait until November! At least her new adult series starts in March :D
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.
Let’s start with a confession: I was totally drawn to Stolen Songbird because of the gorgeous cover. Look at that glass rose! I’m happy to report that the inside is just as lovely. I loved every second of this book, can’t say I expected that! I’ve never read about trolls before but thought they could be a refreshing and intriguing concept. The world building and intricate mythology of Stolen Songbird was fantastic and I really loved the characters. Cecile and Tristan’s alternating POV chapters worked well; they each had a distinct voice and it helped paint a full picture of Trollus, as well as their prejudices, their motives, and their feelings. The romance was awesome, total bickering and getting-to-know each other, forced together, etc. The friendships that Cecile makes were wonderful too, especially with Vincent and Victoria, and even though the evil characters were less three dimensional I’m desperate to know what they’re up to.
You’re thrown immediately into the action from page 1 and even though it was a hefty book (close to 500 pages!) there was never a dull moment. There was, however, political intrigue, treachery, romance, and secrets. I’m really really eager to read the sequel Hidden Huntress (next June! Boo…) and thought the last line was wicked. Plus there are still so many secrets to unravel! Highly recommend for fantasy fans, even if you don’t think trolls sound like your cup of tea. Trust me, they are!
Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.
Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.
Wow. Not what I expected at all, I’m very unsettled. I knew it would be dark but I thought it was more of a traditional fairy tale retelling. It was darker that I could have possibly imagined- my immediate impression while reading was a mixture of an original Grimms fairy tale, The Village (the setting, the creepiness, the characters), and that Red Riding Hood movie with Amanda Seyfried (which I haven’t actually seen). It’s a fantasy set in an unremarkable village that believes in folklore such as witches, goblins, and fairies. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style; it was tense, immediate, and descriptive. The characters were archetypal but well-imagined; I really liked Rowan and Jude reminded me of Ronan from The Raven Boys. The best part though was that almost every character filled me with suspicion and dread; that’s something you want in a mystery. I was also SHOCKED at how much grisly death permeates the book, and how often deaths occur. It was gruesome and certainly upped the ante.
I was very impressed with The Glass Casket; it was magical, macabre, frightening, bleak, and enthralling. It was a horror story wrapped in a mystery inside a fairy tale coating. There were some subtle Snow White allusions, which I enjoyed. But this isn’t for the faint of heart or for anything looking for a happily ever after kind of retelling, although it’s not *all* doom and gloom. It’s very dark and brutal but has an appealing heroine and an enchanting mythology. It keeps you turning the pages with the kind of slow burn dread that is unique to murder mysteries. I took off the star because I think it was so far from the impression I had of the book going in but I was impressed and ended up really liking it once I got over my initial shock!