Two Hearts Asunder

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for One Wish Away. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Two Hearts Asunder was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of next month. It continues the story of Marielle and Faris as they find themselves at the mercy of a powerful djinn. The novel forms the second part of the Djinn Empire trilogy and is preceded by One Wish Away (2017). The final instalment of the series – provisionally titled Three Words Promised – is expected to be released later this year.

Marielle knows that she is being selfish. Ever since she inherited her Grandfather’s magical stone, she’s reunited with her father, helped her loved ones find peace, and gained a loving boyfriend. But something is still missing. Faris can’t say the three words that she most wants to hear or he will lose his powers. With Akeelah still at large, he can’t allow himself to become human. If he did, there would be no one left who could stop her.

Far away, Akeelah is starting to put her plans in motion. The laws of nature prevent her from directly hurting humans, so she’s forced to recruit new assistants from America’s criminal underbelly. Her task for them is simple. They are to pursue Marielle wherever she goes and stop at nothing to kill her. It’s not long before Marielle discovers that nowhere is safe. Her enemies have no trouble doing away with anyone who gets in their way.

Faris knows that he can’t expect his love to spend her life in hiding. He has no choice but to do what Akeelah commands, leaving Marielle in order to assist the djinn in realising her darkest desire. Marielle is devastated, but she’s not about to leave Faris to Akeelah’s machinations. With Abby and Maven in tow, she sets out to find a way to save her boyfriend and stop Akeelah forever…

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Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer was written by Laini Taylor and is due for release later this month. It’s a fantasy epic which tells the story of a young librarian’s quest to discover a legendary city. The novel forms the first part of a duology, though a release date for its concluding part has not yet been announced.

Lazlo Strange has long lived up to his unusual name. Raised by monks, and later finding his calling as librarian in the Great Library of Zosma, he has spent his life ardently researching the myths and folklore that the other scholars sneer at. His goal is to learn all he can about the Unseen City – a place lost to the world years before when its name was stolen from the minds of all who knew of it and replaced with a single word: Weep.

Yet everything changes when the Tizerkane – the legendary army of Weep – come to Zosma. Their leader Eril-Fane – a man known as the Godslayer – is in search of the wisest men in the world. He needs them to solve a problem that has been plaguing Weep, but he will not speak of exactly what that problem entails. Although Lazlo has no skills to offer, he still manages to impress Eril-Fane with his stories and thus secures a job as the Godslayer’s secretary.

Lazlo dreams of discovering all of the mysteries that Weep has to offer, yet everything he finds just raises more questions. Fifteen years previously, something terrible happened in the City – something that gave the Godslayer his title but also left him filled with shame. As a blue-skinned woman begins to appear in Lazlo’s dreams, he slowly starts to put the pieces together. Yet who is this mysterious stranger, and could she possibly be somewhere in Weep?

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The Scarecrow Queen

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here] and [here].

My exam is over and I passed – yay! Let’s celebrate by looking at something new and exciting.

The Scarecrow Queen was written by Melinda Salisbury and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy and is preceded by The Sin Eater’s Daughter (2015) and The Sleeping Prince (2016). The novel carries on exactly where the previous book left off, so please note that you really need to read them in sequence to have the faintest idea of what’s going on.

From his seat in Lormere, Prince Aurek has absolute control. The people are too afraid of his golem army to rise against him and, with Errin and Silas taken captive, all hopes of deconstructing the Opus Magnum seem to have been lost. With only Hope, Nia and Kirin left for support, Twylla flees across the land in search of a safe haven but there is none to be found. One by one, all of the kingdoms are falling to the Sleeping Prince.

It’s not long before Twylla realises what needs to be done. Aurek can’t be allowed to remain in power. It’s up to her to rally the support of the oppressed peasants, gathering them together and training them to fight. Although Aurek’s army is vast, they only follow him because they are afraid. Using the things that she learned as Daunen Embodied, Twylla knows that she can restore the thing that he has taken from them: their hope.

In Lormere Castle, Errin must face a struggle of her own. Not only is she the prisoner of Aurek, but she is bound by magic to obey his whims. She knows that if she slips up he can easily order her to kill herself or, worse still, take out his anger on Silas. Yet she also has hope. Behind Aurek’s back, she plots with Merek – planning an escape for both them and their friends. Yet their alliance is wrought with danger. One mistake would reveal to Aurek that the former King of Lormere hides right under his nose, and would result in a painful death for them both…

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Young Adult Comics

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I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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Boudica’s Daughters

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Boudica’s Daughters was written by Sheridan Winn and first published in 2016. It’s a fantasy story with historical elements, focusing on a family who are drawn closer together by both personal tragedy and an archaeological find. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lilla has always seen ghosts, though she often finds that people don’t believe her. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that when her family moves out into the Norfolk countryside, she starts to see spirits of ancient warriors. Two thousand years before, the Iceni tribe was known to live in the area and when Lilla uncovers an ornamental hare in the woods behind her house, she quickly learns that it belonged to the daughter of Queen Boudica.

However, her investigation into the ghosts is put on hold when her sister returns home from University. While Lilla has always been a bit weird, her sister Janey was the life and soul of the party. Yet Janey’s not the same as she was. In the past year, she’s gone increasingly off the rails and fallen in with a bad crowd. It’s not long the family discover why, and the tragic revelation shocks all of them to the core.

In an attempt draw her sister out of her depression, Lilla enlists her to help scour the woods for Iceni treasure. As they discover more than they ever could have imagined, the sisters slowly begin to grow closer as they search for a way to both help Janey and the restless spirits find peace.

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One Wish Away

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One Wish Away was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of February. It is a paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds herself irresistibly drawn to a djinn. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced. Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Marielle has not had an easy upbringing. Her mother tragically passed away and her father abandoned her, choosing to drown his sorrows in drink. She was instead raised by her grandfather, helping out in his esoteric flower shop, until one tragic afternoon when he too lost his life. Left with no family and shouldering her grandfather’s extensive debt, she is forced to turn her hopes to the unusual object that he left to her. A magical stone.

Trapped within the stone is Faris, an ancient djinn who is cursed to grant three wishes to whoever owns the stone. He is only free so long as that person is making their choices. Once voice is given to the final wish, he vanishes again until the stone changes hands. Marielle immediately regrets summoning the djinn. She remembers enough of her grandfather’s stories to know that he can’t be trusted. He will seek to seduce her, doing anything in his power to prevent her from making her wishes so that he can enjoy his freedom.

Yet Marielle’s suspicion blinds her to the truth. Faris is more complex than she gives him credit for and is hiding shocking secrets of his own. Although she has had nothing but bad experiences with men, she slowly starts to trust him. Yet doing so puts her in tremendous danger as Faris’s brother, Zet, makes his presence known. Zet has plans for his older brother and isn’t above hurting anyone who gets in his way…

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Bone Gap

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Bone Gap was written by Laura Ruby and is due for release in the UK later this month. It’s a modern faerie tale, set in a town where everything is not quite as it first appears. The novel won the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award and is a stand-alone story. I’d like to thank Faber & Faber for providing me with an advance copy for review.

There is something strange about Bone Gap. The small farming town has always been full of gaps, as though the bones of the world a just a little looser there. Some of those gaps are so big that a person can fall into them and disappear. Perhaps that’s why no one takes Finn seriously when he claims that Roza has been kidnapped. The fact that Finn O’Sullivan can’t even describe the man who supposedly took her doesn’t help matters. Roza was young and beautiful. No one really expected her to stay on the farm with Finn and his older brother Sean for long.

Besides, everyone knows that Finn isn’t normal. People call him Moonface or Sidetrack due to the trouble he has concentrating. It seems typical that he’d make up the kidnapping. After all, his mother also just slipped away and abandoned him. Only Petey, the beekeeper’s daughter, takes him seriously. Yet Petey has troubles of her own. She knows that she’s ugly and is concerned that Finn only likes her because she seems easy to get.

Roza, on the other hand, faces discrimination of another kind. She finds herself in a strange world, guarded by a savage hound and kept prisoner by a man who cares only for her beauty – one who patiently waits for the day that Roza loves him back. Escape seems impossible, but she knows that she must find a way. Roza dreams of returning to her native Poland and can’t allow a manipulative stranger to keep that from her…

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Scythe

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Scythe was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2016. It’s a science fiction novel with horror elements that is set in a world where humans have conquered death and old age. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

There is no one alive who remembers the Age of Mortality – the time when the world was dangerous and the tiniest slip could result in death. People now have the power to live forever, resetting back as far as their early twenties whenever they felt the touch of old age. However, death is required in order to keep down the population. The service is performed by the Scythes – an order of men and women who are permitted to “glean” the chosen – taking their life for the good of all.

When there becomes a need for more Scythes to be ordained, Honourable Scythe Faraday takes it upon himself to train two apprentices – Citra and Rowan. Both of the teenagers are taken from different walks of life and neither is keen to don the cloak and ring of Scythe. Yet this is for the best. Faraday believes that a good Scythe is one that does not want to burden. A Scythe that enjoys killing is nothing more than a murder.

Yet taking on two apprentices is unheard of and not all of Faraday’s colleagues are impressed. It is decided that only one of his students is to become a Scythe and their first task will be to glean the loser. Citra and Rowan began their apprenticeship as allies but soon find themselves as rivals, torn between their friendship and desire to survive…

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Timekeeper

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Timekeeper was first published in 2016 and is Tara Sim’s debut novel. It is a steampunk fantasy which focus on the relationship between a young mechanic and the spirit possessing a clock tower. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no other instalments have been announced.

For as long as anyone can remember, the clock towers have regulated the flow of time. People live in fear of them ever becoming damaged as if a clock tower ever stops, the surrounding area also becomes frozen in time and completely cut off from the outside world. To prevent this from happening, the towers are maintained by a guild of mechanics, each blessed with the ability to sense and manipulate the threads of time.

Danny Hart is a prodigy. At the age of seventeen, he is the youngest person to ever graduate as a mechanic. That is, until his accident. Although Danny manages to survive an explosion at a clock tower that he has been sent to repair, he’s left traumatised and unable to perform even the most basic of duties. This is a problem. The guild has commenced work on the first brand-new clock tower in centuries and he needs to be part of the construction team. His father’s life could depend on it.

To prove that he is fit to work, Danny accepts an assignment to repair a damaged tower. Yet the apprentice who is assigned to help him quickly proves to know next to nothing about mechanics. It’s not long before Danny realises why. Colton isn’t an apprentice at all, but the guardian spirit of the clock tower. It’s not long before Danny and Colton start to fall in love. Yet it’s expressly forbidden for a mechanic to develop feelings for a clock spirit. Danny knows that their bond can only end in disaster. At best, it could cost him his job. At worst, it could endanger the lives of everyone living in the town…

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Smoke

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Smoke was written by Dan Vyleta and first published in 2016. In is a historical fantasy novel, set in a 19th Century England where everyone’s sin is visible. Although the novel certainly leaves enough open to allow a sequel, none has been announced at the time of writing and you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Every wicked thought or deed causes a person to smoke, producing the thick substance from their pores and throat. Its thickness, smell and colour is determined by how vile the thought that produces it is. The aristocracy and peasants are separated by this very fact. It is known that the poor smoke constantly, unable to contain their sin. The rich, on the other hand, have learned how to live a life of purity. They control their vices and it is poor show for them to smoke at all.

Thomas and Charlie attend an elite boarding school where the sons of Lords learn how to become proper gentlemen. The problem is, Thomas knows that he is stained. His father was a murderer and he knows that he will one day inherit the same sin. Even though he has come of age, his smoke is still dark and uncontrollable, revealing the darkness of his soul. Charlie is the only one who likes him, sure that Thomas isn’t hopeless as he believes.

When the two of them are sent to stay with Thomas’s distant relative – Lady Naylor – for Christmas, they slowly begin to uncover a conspiracy rooted in the depths of society. The rich are no better than the poor, they have just found ways of managing their smoke through specialist sweets and cigarettes. When it becomes clear that they may pose a threat to her plans for country’s future, Lady Naylor arranges an accident to prevent the boys from leaving her land. However, when things go wrong, the boys wind up on the run with Lady Naylor’s daughter Livia in tow and a deranged serial killer following close behind…

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