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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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

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Today, I’m going to be taking a look at something a little different. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World was written by Shannon and Dean Hale and first published in 2017. It’s a middle grade science fiction story, based around the Marvel superheroine of the same name. The novel stands alone, so you don’t need to know anything about the character before picking it up.

Doreen Green is aged fourteen (and well aware that those things rhyme). She likes to think that she’s a typical teenager. She likes making new friends, dancing and talking to squirrels. Okay, well maybe one of those isn’t that typical. You see, Doreen has a secret. She hides the fact that she has a five-foot-long prehensile tale, the ability to talk to select woodland creatures and the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel!

In secret, Doreen has taken to thinking of herself as Squirrel Girl and dreams of one day joining the Avengers. However, she knows that she needs to keep her abilities secrets. Her parents have always told her that if others see her awesome tail, they’ll only be jealous of it. It’s really a shame as Doreen has just started a new school and is struggling to fit in. The only girl who is remotely friendly with her is Ana Sofía, and that’s partially because they both tend to be ignored by the “Somebodies”.

However, when someone starts setting lethal squirrel traps around the city, Doreen knows that she’s hero that Shady Oaks needs. Donning a hood to protect her identity, she starts out her career small by rounding up stray dogs, cleaning graffiti and saving babies. However, it’s not long until she attracts the attention of the Micro-Manager – a brand new super villain who has decided that Squirrel Girl would make the perfect nemesis…

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was written by Holly Black and first published in 2013. It is a dark fantasy story, set in a world where a vampire plague has swept America. The novel is loosely based around one of Black’s short stories, and the original can be found in the collection The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. However, this story is intended to stand alone and so you don’t have to have read any of her other work to fully appreciate it.

The world changed rapidly after the existence of vampires was revealed. While they had previously kept to themselves, a rogue vampire went out of his way to spread their sickness across the globe. Bitten humans quickly became Cold, rapidly gaining an uncontrollable desire for human flesh. If they managed to consume this, they then transformed into a true vampire. In a bid to contain the infection, the American government created the Coldtowns – quarantined areas where both vampires and Colds could live without fear of being hunted.

Tana is in trouble. She woke up after a party to find that all her friends were dead. While trying to find a way to escape without waking the vampires who feasted on them, she came across a strange scene. Her Cold ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a strange vampire both chained in one of the bedrooms. Unable to leave them to the mercy of the killers, she tries to rescue both. However, during this escape, she is grazed by a vampire’s fangs. Realising that she may now be infected, Tana drives towards the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has no choice if she wants to keep her family safe.

Tana just wants to find a place to sweat off her infection, but Coldtown is not as safe or glamorous as the internet feeds make it appear. Most of the population are humans who have thrown away their freedom for a chance at immortality. If these people realise that Tana and Aidan are Cold, they would do anything to force them to complete their transformations. Added is the complication that Gavriel – the vampire she saved – has a history with the most popular superstar of Coldtown. If Tana wishes to survive, she may need to become a monster…

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The Dark Days Club

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The Dark Days Club was written by Alison Goodman and first published in 2015. It’s a dark fantasy story set in England’s Regency Era, focusing on a young lady finding out about the existence of a demon-hunting secret society. The novel forms the first part of the Lady Helen series and is followed by The Dark Days Pact (2017). The final instalment of the trilogy has yet to be announced.

Lady Helen Wrexhall has just reached eighteen years of age and is finally old enough to make her debut in society, attending balls and soirées to make a good impression on any potential husbands. Although she carries the stain of her family name, her uncle is convinced that the inheritance left to her by her disgraced mother will be enough to attract a suitable match.

However, the first man that seems to be interested in Helen is the infamous Lord Carlston – a man suspected of murdering his previous wife. Helen’s uncle is not impressed that Carlson – a distant relation of his – is trying to use their name to catapult himself back into high society. However, Helen soon learns that Carlston is not interested in her as a match. He is a Reclaimer – a member of a secret society called the Dark Days Club – and he believes that Helen is one as well.

Through secret meetings with Carlston, Helen learns all about his organisation, the horrible monsters that they fight and their sacred duty to protect humanity. However, the more that Helen sees of their world, the more certain she is that she doesn’t want anything to do with them. Yet Carlston is certain that a powerful creature known as a Grand Deceiver is on the rise. How could Helen be able to deny her calling when she could be the only one capable of stopping it?

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The Diviners

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The Diviners was written by Libba Bray and first published in 2012. It’s a paranormal novel set in the Roaring Twenties, which focuses on a flapper discovering her psychic powers as she faces a supernatural murder. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Lair of Dreams (2015), though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Evie O’Neill has caused her parents trouble from the last time. Her “party trick” of divining a person’s darkest secrets from a personal item has led to nothing but trouble in her hometown and so her parents decide to ship her off to stay with her uncle in New York City. Although her uncle runs the boring Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (known to locals as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies), Evie is still thrilled. She can’t wait to meet up with her childhood friend, Mabel, and take the town by storm.

However, she soon discovers that a great evil has gripped the city. People are being found ritually murdered, missing body parts and branded with occultist symbols. The police are baffled and turn to Will for advise. When Evie comes into contact with an item belonging to one of the victims, she has a vivid vision of the murder taking place. She realises that she could use her power to help catch the killer, but how can she find a way to do so without making her superstitious uncle suspicious?

Meanwhile, something strange is happening all across America. Individuals with powers that are similar to Evie’s are finding themselves drawn to New York without even being aware of why. In Harlem, a young seer begins to prophesise a coming storm. Its clear that these Diviners are being drawn by some power far great than themselves, but what can it mean and how can they be expected to face it?

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Razorhurst

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Razorhurst was written by Justine Larbalestier and first published in 2016. It’s historical fiction with supernatural elements, focusing on two girls who see ghosts as they struggle to survive in 1930s Sydney. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

It’s 1932 and the streets of Razorhurst are bathed in blood. The fragile truce between the two most powerful mob bosses – Gloriana Nelson and Mr. Davidson – is slowly beginning to crumble and their enforcers frequently come to blows in the streets, finishing each other off with razor blades as carrying guns is illegal. It’s not surprising that with so much murder and violence, the streets are also filled with ghosts. Invisible to most, the haunt the places they died or people that they once loved. Only Kelpie seems to notice them, and that often leads to more harm than good.

Kelpie is a street urchin, orphaned and left homeless at a young age. Although she knows that ghosts usually aren’t to be trusted, she makes the mistake of following one’s advice in the hope of finding fresh food. What she stumbles across instead is a murder. Jimmy Palmer – Glory’s favourite lieutenant – has been brutally slaughtered. Although Jimmy’s ghost tells her who committed the crime, there is no way that Kelpie can come forward with this information. If she did, she’d have to explain exactly how she came across it.

Instead, Kelpie finds herself fleeing across Razorhurst with Dymphna Campbell – Jimmy’s girlfriend and Glory’s prized moll. Dymphna has already earned the nickname “Angel of Death” since her partners never seem to last long, and knows that she’s likely to be found responsible for the most recent murder. Dymphna knows that Glory’s hold is weakening and dreams of taking her place, yet most importantly she knows that she must survive. Meeting Kelpie seems to be fate as Dymphna has never encountered another who shares her supernatural power. Together, she knows that they can rise to the top.

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RoseBlood

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RoseBlood was written by A.G. Howard and first published in 2017. It’s a fantasy romance story inspired by both Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera (originally published in 1910) and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Howard’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Seventeen year old Rune Germain is cursed. She has a photographic memory for operatic songs and can recreate what she hears perfectly, yet when she does so she is left weak and drained for days. Certain that her condition is brought about by stage fright, her mother enrols her at the RoseBlood Conservatory – a French academy of the arts housed in an abandoned opera house in the depths of the woods. She’s certain that here Rune will find her voice.

Rune is less than convinced. She’s heard that the opera house one of the inspirations behind the story of The Phantom of the Opera and this plays on her Romani superstitions. Her fears seem justified as on her first day, she catches sight of a masked gardener that no one else seems to know. Could it be that the legends are true and the Phantom still lurks at RoseBlood, a hundred years after his supposed death?

Her suspicions are half right. The teenager she has seen is Thorn – adoptive son to the immortal Erik – who has found himself an accessory to his father’s plans for Rune. The problem is that the more time Thorn spends watching her, the more he falls in love with her himself. Thorn knows that he must find a way to save his love, before the Phantom can realise his sinister plans…

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