Paedar O’Guilin – The Call

Nessa and her friends attend Boyle College to train for the most dangerous time of their lives – THE CALL.

Without warning, each one of them will wake in a terrifying land, alone and hunted, with a one-in-ten chance of returning alive.

No one believes Nessa can make it, but she’s determined to prove them all wrong. And she will need every ounce of spirit and courage in order to survive…

The back cover of Paedar O’Guilin’s The Call also has a quote mentioning The Hunger Games and that comparison is apt. I was equally, but differently, bugged out by the dour material that both books deal with. I may not be the intended audience, at 38, but putting teens in a post-apocalyptic world where they have to fight for their lives makes for heavy reading, any way you slice it.  Read More …

Joshua Winning – Splinter

The world is falling apart around Nicholas Hallow. Amid rumours that the Dark Prophets have returned, a deathly gloom pollutes England, unleashing a savage hoard of nightmare creatures. Fighting the tide of evil, Nicholas returns home to Cambridge, where an old ally helps him seek out the mysterious Skurkwife, who could help Nicholas stop Malika and the Prophets for good.

Meanwhile, Sam Wilkins unites the Sentinels against the forces of darkness, but with Jessica’s sanity slipping, and Isabel suspicious of her shadowy past, it’s a battle that could cost the Sentinels everything.

Splinter is the final book in Joshua Winning’s Sentinel trilogy. In the interest of full disclosure, I read an earlier draft of the book as well as the final version.  As I’d enjoyed the previous two, Sentinel and Ruins, a lot, I was looking forward to reading this final instalment in the series and finding out whether and how Nicholas and friends would vanquish the Dark Prophets. Splinter was definitely worth the wait though as it is a great wrap up of this very entertaining series.  Read More …

Helen Grant – Ghost

Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think … 

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between — everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted. 

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. 

Then Tom McAllister arrives — good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart. 

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past? 

I’m a huge Helen Grant fan. I love her work and her heroines are always amazing. As she always incorporates where she lives in her work, previously Germany and Belgium, I was really looking forward to seeing how her moving to Scotland would inspire her work. Especially as I’ve seen moody and slightly eerie photos of overgrown castles and graveyards pop up on her social media feeds a lot. Thus, when Ghost was announced and I was offered a review copy, I was super excited to say yes. And oh boy, did Helen deliver on the expectations set by those pictures I’d been seeing. Because Ghost? It is all about the Gothic.  Read More …

Amy Alward – The Potion Diaries

Wiebe is back with another review.

When the princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors traveling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they have fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? And just how close is she willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing enemy, in the meantime.

Just to add to the pressure, this quest is all over social media. And the world news.

No big deal then.

Reading the text on the back cover of The Potion Diaries, Amy Alward sets herself a lot of goals in this book. A quest, a love story, a family mystery and social media, set in a yet to be explained fantasy world. All that in a fast paced YA-ish novel of 350 pages. Looking back on the novel, I think it was a bit too much. I could shoot holes in the plot, say why I find the world is not fleshed out enough and much more. It is in my opinion a gross underestimation of the readers’ age makes that it makes you think you can get away with that. But it is YA, so long as it invokes stormy emotions and makes me feel 16 again, I will go along with it.  Read More …

Tina Connolly – Seriously Shifted

Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmeralda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive… which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

Seriously Shifted is the second book in Tina Connolly’s Seriously Wicked series but it is actually the one I read first. And it was such a fabulous read that immediately took to the internet and ordered the first book, because I had to know how Cam’t story started. However, it is important to note that Seriously Shifted stands on its own very well. I never felt lost or like I’d missed some vital information. As such, if you haven’t read Seriously Wicked yet, you shouldn’t hesitate to start with Seriously Shifted, because it is a complete story on its own.  Read More …

Author Query – Tina Connolly & Giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed Tina Connolly’s Seriously Wicked and today I’m happy to be able to bring you an interview with Tina and a giveaway for her second book in the series, Seriously Shifted. Also, check back tomorrow for a review of Seriously Shifted as I’m having a bit of a Tina Connolly triptych on the blog. It was really fun to interview Tina and I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway for a copy of Seriously Shifted at the end of the interview!

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Tina Connolly? 

I am a writer and narrator in Portland, Oregon. I co-host Escape Pod and I used to run Toasted Cake. Occasionally in the summer I still work as a face painter, though not nearly as much as I used to since the kids and the novels. The glitter still infests everything, though.  Read More …

Tina Connolly – Seriously Wicked

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch—will that mean she’s wicked too?

Tina Connolly’s Seriously Wicked is the first book in her series about teen witch Camellia. I actually read the second book, Seriously Shifted first and I liked it so much that I immediately went and bought this one, because I wanted to know what happened in the first book. And Seriously Wicked was just as much fun as I’d hoped. Cam and her friends are delightful and I really loved how Connolly approached the relationship between Cam and her mum.  Read More …

Robin Talley – As I Descended

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to ensure Maria wins the Kingsley Prize, securing their future together.

When feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line between foul and fair.

Robin Talley’s As I Descended is her third book. Talley’s previous books What We Left Behind and Lies We Tell Ourselves received great acclaim and her latest sounded fascinating. Set at a prestigious boarding school, featuring a lesbian couple, feuds, and power struggles, it seemed as if it would make for an awesome read. And it was, quite compellingly so, but it was also a book I don’t quite know what to make of in the end.  Read More …

Review Amnesty: Girl Power YA edition

I have arisen, or rather the Librarian Family has risen from the most evil of evil flu’s. We went down one by one in the past two weeks and last week was my turn. I haven’t slept this much in years (and no I still haven’t repaid my sleep debt) and when I was awake I wasn’t up for much beyond reading and listening to podcasts. But three-fourths of the household are back on their feet, so it is time to post the review amnesty that was supposed to go up last Monday. This time is it is a Girl Power YA edition featuring V.E. Schwab’s This Savage Song, Gwenda Bond’s Girl in the Shadows, and Kate Elliott’s Poisoned BladeRead More …

N.D. Gomes – Dear Charlie

ndgomes-dearcharlieEngland, 1996.
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.

At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed. Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.

School shootings are a sad phenomenon of our time and have been the subject of numerous YA novels in the past years. I’ve read two of those, Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where It Ends. Both are gripping, emotional novels, each dealing with different points of view on the matter. Quick’s book is written from the point of view of the shooter, while Nijkamp’s novel shows us differing perspectives of teens involved in a school shooting. Dear Charlie takes a very different tack, though its story is equally compelling and emotional. N.D. Gomes focuses her novel on the aftermath of a school shooting and what happens to the family of the culprit.  Read More …