Kate Elliott – Court of Fives

kateelliott-courtoffivesJessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best athletes. Adversaries are masked, so Jes can compete in secret, but victors must reveal their identities. If she wins, she could destroy her family’s precarious social standing.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy turns heads. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

It is no secret that I love Kate Elliott’s writing. I think her Crown of Stars series is criminally underrated and more people should be reading Kate Elliott, period. 2015 is a busy book year for Elliott, as her collection The Very Best of Kate Elliott was released in February and in November her newest adult fantasy book, Black Wolves will be published by Orbit as well. But August sees Elliott stepping out into a new arena, the wonderful world of YA, as she’s publishing her first YA novel, Court of Fives in a fortnight. That makes this fangirl very happy obviously, because I get to read three new Elliott stories this year. Court of Fives is my second Elliott read this year, and it was even more fantastic than I expected, which is a pretty high bar to jump.  Read More …

James P Smythe – Way Down Dark

jamespsmythe-waydowndarkImagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one. 

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive. 

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead. 

This is Australia.

James P. Smythe is award-winning SF author, whose previous works came highly recommended by many of my SFF blogging friends. And while I always meant to read his books, I never got around to it, as I so often don’t these days. But with his first YA novel I decided I had to get in on the action and see whether I’d love his writing as much as so many of my friends do. After reading Way Down Dark the answer is a resounding yes. Chan’s tale is brilliant and the setting of the Australia was breathtaking. There is a huge twist in the second half of the book. It is hard to talk too much about the plot without giving spoilers so I will focus on the characters and the setting.  Read More …

Anticipated Reads (Summer-Autumn) 2015

2015In the past week and a half I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Summer/Autumn 2015 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Claire McGowan’s The Silent Dead, Edward Cox’s second book The Cathedral of Known Things, Stephanie Saulter’s Regeneration, Rebecca Levene’s The Hunter’s Kind, and the final book in Snorri Kristjansson’s Valhalla series Path of Gods.

So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently?  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA October-December

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the last one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

David Hair – The Pyre

davidhair-thepyreMandore, Rajasthan, 769 AD: Ravindra-Raj, the evil sorcerer-king, devises a deadly secret ritual, where he and his seven queens will burn on his pyre, and he will rise again with the powers of Ravana, demon-king of the epic Ramayana. But things go wrong when one queen, the beautiful, spirited Darya, escapes with the help of Aram Dhoop, the court poet.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 2010: At the site of ancient Mandore, teenagers Vikram, Amanjit, Deepika and Rasita meet and realize that the deathless king and his ghostly brides are hunting them down. As vicious forces from the past come alive, they need to unlock truths that have been hidden for centuries, and fight an ancient battle . . . one more time.

I missed out on reading David Hair’s previous series The Moontide Quartet and I was determined to get in on his next series. The Return of Ravana sounded amazing; the mix of mythical retelling and modern-day setting really appealed to me. The Return of Ravana isn’t actually a new series, the series was previously published by Penguin India. Jo Fletcher Books is rereleasing it with new covers, new titles and in the case of The Pyre a slightly tweaked text. The Pyre is the first book in the quartet and I was stoked to get the chance to read it. And after all the good things I’d heart about Hair’s writing, The Pyre definitely didn’t disappoint.  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA September

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. September is such a huge month, it got an entire post to itself! For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Summer-Autumn) 2015: YA July-August

2015Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a permanent part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the first one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!  Read More …

Elaine Dimopoulos – Material Girls

elainedimopoulos-materialgirlsIn Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?

When Elaine Dimopoulos’s Material Girls came up as a Read Now title on Netgalley, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and read it. Even if the blurb seemed to indicate it was a YA dystopian novel, which I usually enjoy, for some reason I dithered and it was hard to put my finger on what exactly caused this. So what convinced me in the end? The tag line, as I love Project Runway. Sometimes decisions are as shallow as that. Why tell you about the decision process here? Because that ambivalence has marked my entire process with this book; I’ve kept going back and forth on what I thought about the book. Did I like the characters? Was the plot interesting or bland? Did I enjoy the world building or was it too far-fetched to work? The answer changed again and again. I still don’t have any definitive answers. I certainly found it confusing but also interesting enough, because I never once considered not finishing it.

Spoilers beyond the cut.  Read More …

Joshua Winning – Ruins

joshuawinning-ruinsIn his desperate search for answers about the Sentinels, an ancient society of demon hunters that his parents belonged to, fifteen-year-old Nicholas Hallow is tipped into a fresh nightmare of terrifying monsters – and even more sinister humans – which threaten to send the world spiralling into chaos. Can Nicholas track down the mysterious girl who holds the key to their fate?

Earlier this year I reviewed the first book in the Sentinel series, appropriately titled Sentinel and enjoyed it very much, despite its flaws. So I was looking forward to seeing where the story went in the next instalment called Ruins, especially since the cover seemed to suggest we’d be seeing a lot more of my favourite character Isabel. Winning doesn’t disappoint in this exciting sequel, which raises the stakes considerably.  Read More …

Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes

sabaatahir-anemberintheashesWhat if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

Sabaa Tahir’s debut An Ember in the Ashes was one of the books that really caught my eye when I first saw it announced last year. Its Imperial Rome-inspired, militaristic secondary world setting sounded intriguing and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a nice ‘revolution against the despots’-narrative? So I was really stoked to receive an ARC for the book, especially as it was also a very pretty book as well. And yes, that is exactly as shallow as it sounds. And while I truly enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes and I definitely want to know what happens in the next book, I also had some big problems with the narrative.  Read More …