parallel worlds

Review: The Scroll, K.B. Hoyle

The ScrollThe Scroll (Goodreads)
Author:   K.B. Hoyle (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Darcy Pennington may once have been an average teenager, but not anymore. Living each year twice, once in her world and once in Alitheia, has made her into someone who cares little for normal teenage activities. She’s got more important things to do, like save the mythical, magical world of Alitheia. But this time, Darcy can’t save Alitheia until she saves Tellius, the love of her life.

A window between the worlds allows Darcy to see Tellius from her home in Chicago. But, far from being reassured, she plunges into despair when she sees Tellius captured, imprisoned, and tortured. All her plans for her future life in Alitheia are put on hold as Darcy faces a singular goal: save Tellius, even if it means giving Tselloch something in return.

Details

Series: The Gateway Chronicles #5
Genre: Teen/YA Fantasy
Published: The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, October 17, 2013
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Writer’s Coffee Shop
E-copies: Writer’s Coffee Shop

Review

Please note: The Scroll is the fifth in this series so this review may contain spoilers for earlier books. You’re welcome to check out my reviews for The Six,  The Oracle, The White Thread and The Enchanted first, if you’re interested!


It has been almost a whole year since the last time I visited the world of Alitheia with Darcy and her friends, but I was very pleased to rejoin them in this, the penultimate book in the Gateway Chronicles series.

A while before Darcy and her friends are due to travel to summer camp and then back to the parallel world of Alitheia, Darcy is missing Tellius dreadfully. A magic mirror from Alitheia allows her to catch glimpses of her love from time to time, but when one day she looks in the mirror and sees Tellius captured and later tortured, she is desperate to get back to Alitheia as soon as possible. But there are more secrets, lies and adventures waiting for them in that other world than there ever have been before.

Some stories are told with events taking place over a few days. Not so in the Gateway Chronicles, where each instalment covers a whole year in Alitheia, as well as whatever portions of real-world events happen on either side of that. For this reason, great sections of the story (and in this book in particular) involve down-time – the six companions from our world spend a lot of time training or sitting around studying in the library, and the actual action parts are kind of spaced out. It was rather frustrating, for the characters as well as the reader – they know that Tellius is being tortured, why can’t they do something about it sooner?!

If there’s one thing that disappointed me slightly about this book in the series is that the characters are still repeating the same mistakes as they have previously. Secrets are being kept from Darcy and she doesn’t like it, so she takes things into her own hands and wanders off into trouble again. I don’t blame her, really, but I’d be more inclined (in my imagination, at least) to demand answers from someone before I went running off into danger. In any case, she manages to uncover some secrets on her own and eventually the reason for the lack of information is revealed.

Despite Darcy’s (and my) impatience, the interactions between characters in these books are really very well written and make the story really enjoyable. Darcy is essentially now an early-twenty-year-old living in a seventeen year old’s body, and her maturity shines through. It was really nice to see her come into her own as a mage, even if Rubidius wouldn’t help with training. The other characters have matured nicely as well, except for Percy, perhaps. I did want to slap him occasionally! Tellius, as usual, is adorable and wasn’t in this one enough.

The Scroll‘s cliffhanger ending really sets things up for the finale – I’m really looking forward to seeing what KB Hoyle could possibly have left to throw at her long-suffering characters!

Once again, I’d recommend the Gateway Chronicles series to those who enjoy fantasy aimed at a young-YA crowd.

Warnings: Violence

The Gateway Chronicles

The Scroll Book 6: ?2014

 

Review: The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas

The Burning SkyThe Burning Sky (Goodreads)
Author:  Sherry Thomas (website)

Rating: ★★★★☆

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

Details

Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, in a historical setting
Published: Balzer & Bray, September 2013
Pages: 464
My copy: The publisher via Edelweiss

Paper copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (ePub)

Review

The Burning Sky is a story about Elemental Mages set partially in Victorian England. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this one after hearing about it! I was even more delighted to discover that the English setting is none other than Eton College, just up the road from where I used to live in the UK. Any book that mentions Windsor Castle is a winner for me, and as it turns out, this is a very enjoyable story as well.

Iolanthe Seabourne is a gifted Elemental Mage. When trying to fix a light elixir, she calls down a bolt of lightning, which draws attention to her from a variety of directions. Suddenly she is The Realm’s most wanted person, hunted by the mages of Atlantis and nearly captured. Much to her surprise, she is instead whisked away to the non-mage realm of mid-1800s England with Prince Titus of Elberon, the rather attractive but cold and driven sixteen-year-old ruler of the Realm. Realising her potential from visions by his seer mother, Titus hides Iolanthe within his school disguised as Archer Fairfax – a fictional student who has supposedly been on a leave of sickness. Can Iolanthe pull off the public school boy masquerade, while training her magic abilities and avoiding the notice of the agents of Atlantis?

In preparing for this review I discovered that not only is Sherry Thomas an acclaimed Romance author, but she also writes in English as her second language. The romance part I can see in the way Titus and Iolanthe interact, but wow, she really writes in English like a native speaker. This is a beautifully written story, told in the slightly formal style of classical literature – a style that fits very well with the Victorian English setting.

The story is told from both Titus’ and Iolanthe’s points of view, sometimes switching after just a few paragraphs. At first, this jumping between heads was quite distracting and a little confusing at times, but it draws out the tension well and gradually becomes less annoying as the story goes on.

The world building here is amazing, although not everywhere. We don’t hear a lot about the Realm or Atlantis, but we do get a good sense of the interior of the magical construct of the Crucible, and also of the Eton School and surrounds (although perhaps that’s because I’ve been there!). What wasn’t made particularly clear was how the mage realms relate geographically to the non-mage world. Are they just integrated into each other as in Harry Potter, or are they actual separate countries? There was quite an information dump at the start that made the whole Atlantis situation unclear. I’m hoping that will be explained a little more as the story progresses.

My only real disappointment with the story was the magic system – magic performed by uttering a few words, with or without a wand and no energy expended. To make a spell more potent you just add “forte!” to the end of your command! As I’ve said before, magic without consequences or price is just not my cup of tea.

Despite my magical concerns, the story is action-packed and exciting all the way through. The romantic aspect was really quite predictable but ended up being subtle enough not to be annoying. Titus was a bit of a flirt all the way through which went against his aloof public persona a bit, but I loved Iolanthe’s rebuffs and the way she gradually warmed to him again.

I’d highly recommend this story to young adult fantasy readers – while perhaps not as gritty as Throne of Glass or Graceling, The Burning Sky has the same epic feeling about it. Bring on book two!

What did others think of The Burning Sky?

  • “With strong world-building, a rich magical infrastructure, consistent characters, and a touch of romance, The Burning Sky is exactly the sort of book that effortlessly pushes the rest of the world to one side.” – Realm of Fiction
  • “This beautiful story, and especially the romance, had me flailing around on my bed, seriously stifling sobs and squeals. It struck me in the heart like Cupid’s arrow.” – Snuggly Oranges
  • “Oh Titus, you adorable princeling. Let me love you.” – Writer of Wrongs

Review: The Scrivener’s Tale, Fiona McIntosh

This review is part of the Discover Aussie Fantasy feature, running during July on The Oaken Bookcase. You can find details of the feature and enter the giveaway on the Aussie Fantasy page!


scrivenerstaleThe Scrivener’s Tale (Goodreads)
Author: flag_aus Fiona McIntosh (website)

Rating: ★★★½☆

In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant… until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems. 

As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe’s life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

Soon, Gabe’s world will be turned upside down, and he will learn shocking truths about who he is . . . and who he can – or cannot – trust.

Details

Series: Stand alone (but set in the world of the Quickening series)
Genre: Urban/High Fantasy
Published: Harper Voyager, November 2012
Pages: 499
My copy: the publisher via Edelweiss

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:  Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Gabe is living in Paris after running away from the ruin of his life in England. One day, a customer at the bookshop where he works asks him to see a young girl as a patient, but Gabe insists that has given up his career as a psychologist. Reynard is not to be deterred though, and when Gabe finally meets Angelina, he is drawn to her in a most disturbing way.

Meanwhile, in Morgravia, the reclusive monk Cassien is drawn out of his forest home and tasked with protecting Queen Florentyna from a mysterious demon, due to return to their world and bent on the destruction of the entire kingdom. In his travels he runs into the youth Hamelyn. The stories of the three men are intertwined throughout this story, as each must come to terms with their own magic and work together to locate and destroy the demon threatening the world.

The Scrivener’s Tale is a return to the world Fiona McIntosh first wrote about in her Quickening series, set several hundred years later. When I first heard about this book and realised it was a stand-alone story in a previously created world, I was assured that I didn’t need to read the previous series to know what was going on.

This is true to a certain extent – there is quite a lot of story set-up at the start to help the reader to understand the history of Morgravia and the magic of Myrren and Wyl Thirsk (who, I understand, the Quickening is about). I did feel, however, that because this world has been written about before, I didn’t get a chance to explore the settings and really get much of a feel for the place. Instead I was given a set of locations – the Forest, the Wild, the city of Pearlis – without really getting any description of what they are like.

The slight lack of atmosphere was made up for by the characters – each of them are unique and endearing, and I especially liked Queen Florentyna and the kind way she rules Morgravia. Gabe brings a certain “down-to-Earth” nature to the story, but after the first few chapters where he features heavily we really don’t hear that much more from him. The way the cover blurb is written it sounds like the whole story is centred on Gabe, and I’ll admit I was disappointed by the fact that it really wasn’t. It was great to hear his confusion over ending up in a new world and I would have liked to read a bit more of that.

I’ve read a few reviews of this book describing it as having “non-stop action”. While there are exciting and action-packed parts, on the whole the story is fairly slow-moving and took me quite a while to read – it just didn’t grab me for some reason. Despite that, I felt it was very well written and I’d like to look into some of Fiona’s other works – perhaps her historical fiction. She certainly has a variety of genres on her shelf!

The Scrivener’s Tale is a well-told stand-alone story. I think I would still enjoy reading the earlier series, starting with Myrren’s Gift – not too much of the earlier story is given away in this one. Those that have already read the Quickening series should enjoy this return to Morgravia.

Warnings: Violence, sexual references

About the Author

fionamcintoshFiona McIntosh writes best selling historical adventure-romance alongside the heroic-romantic, often brutal, fantasy she built her career upon. She lives in Australia but frequently roams the world meticulously researching the locations and gathering material for her historical novels that have international settings. Her books are published worldwide and in various languages.

Her most recent historical fiction The Lavender Keeper has gathered such a following that she is now hosting a tour in 2014 to Paris and Provence so eager readers can walk in the footsteps of her characters.

(Bio from Goodreads, image from www.fionamcintosh.com)

Review: The Waste Lands, Stephen King

Title: The Waste Lands (Goodreads)

Author:  Stephen King

Rating: ★★★★½

~ Blurb from Goodreads ~

Roland, the Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares- as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted mirror of our very own.

With him are those he has drawn to this world, street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah. Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who he is and what is driving him.

Details

Series: The Dark Tower #3 of 7
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror
Published: First published August 1991
Pages: 422

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Note: The Stephen King’s The Dark Tower challenge is supposed to be a read-a-long, but I’m doing less of the “answer questions as you read” part and more just reading each book and posting my review each month. If you’re interested in reading some discussion questions about each book, please check out the Dark Tower Challenge blog.

You can also check out my reviews for the first two books in The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three. This review contains spoilers!


Roland, Eddie and Susannah (as Odetta is now called) are recovering from their time journeying along the beach in search of doors between the worlds. It’s soon clear that Roland is slowly starting to lose his mind, as he hears voices and is no longer sure which of his memories is the truth. Meanwhile, in New York, eleven-year-old Jake is having a similar crisis as he’s sure he should have died on his way to school. Roland and his companions must try to draw Jake into their world and continue on with their quest.

We find out a lot more about the Tower, about the group’s Ka and their quest towards the end goal moves along at pace, taking them to an almost-ruined ancient city in search of an insane train.

The Waste Lands is packed with literary references, as well as elements of pop-culture from the 1960s-80s eras. I’m sure there were quite a few references I didn’t pick up as well. The often odd references made the story enjoyable in some ways, but distracted from the Mid-world itself in other ways. The first part of the story is a little slow – I thought the entire sequence with Roland and Jake’s dual memories went on for too long. The pace picks up a lot more in the second part of the book and I had a lot of trouble putting it down right to the end.

I found The Waste Lands much more enjoyable than the previous two books. For one thing, it’s not quite so desperate and a lot more adventurous. I spent the entire time reading The Drawing of the Three biting my nails, waiting for the next horrible event to occur, but The Waste Lands was much more like a traditional fantasy tale with a fairly linear journey and plenty of character relationship development.

I loved the way the characters have developed, although I’m still not really sure what happened to Odetta and Detta at the end of the previous book. Susannah seems like a strange mixture of the two of them and we don’t get to know the new her all that well. I did think Eddie was brilliant and I can’t wait to see how he and Susannah develop both their relationship and their abilities as Gunslingers. I also loved having Jake back in the story and the introduction of Oy the billy-bumbler, even though I’m trying not to form too much attachment to any of them as I’m sure they could be killed off at a moment’s notice!

As with the previous books in the series, I’d recommend it to fantasy fans who don’t mind a bit of blood and guts and who enjoy terrifying chases and escapes. The series just keeps getting better with each instalment and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the fourth book, Wizard and Glass.

Warnings: Sexual scenes (some abusive), coarse language, graphic violence.

 

The Dark Tower series

The Gunslinger

The Drawing of the Three

The Waste Lands

Wizard and Glass

The Wind Through the Keyhole

Wolves of the Calla Song of Susannah The Dark Tower

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Goodreads)
Author:  Laini Taylor (@lainitaylor)

Rating: ★★★★½

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

Details

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: Little & Brown, November 6, 2012
Pages: 528

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Please note: This review is for the second in the series, and so contains spoilers for book one: Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You may wish to read my review of that book instead!

The Angels have won – the lands of the Chimaera are ravaged, the cities destroyed and the people are being hunted down and exterminated or taken into slavery. Karou has become the new resurrectionist, holed up in a Kasbah in the deserts of Morocco building new bodies for the White Wolf’s army, and she suspects that Thiago isn’t telling her all that he’s up to on the other side of the rift. Meanwhile, Akiva is struggling with his place in the Misbegotten, heart-sick with what he has done to Karou and with what he and his brethren have been ordered to do to the fleeing Chimaeran survivors.

If it’s been a while since you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you might like to take a quick flick-through to remind yourself of what happened – there isn’t really much of a recap at the start of Days of Blood and Starlight and I had a bit of trouble catching up with what was happening.

Because this book is the second in a trilogy, it is the middle section of a story of war. Sadly that makes this a very dark and often disturbing telling of the events taking place in the two worlds – there is very little of the romance that made Daughter of Smoke and Bone so amazing. Days of Blood and Starlight is a very important part of the overall story, although not a particularly enjoyable one, being an occasionally horrifying account of the persecution of the defeated Chimaera and of the torment of the few soldiers on both sides that question their own orders. It is a story of compassion and love, locked in an epic struggle against the machinations of evil warlords on both sides. It makes for an emotionally raw experience but is certainly building up toward a big finale.

The romantic elements aren’t completely missing from this instalment, although they are much more anguished and desperate. The first time Karou and Akiva come face-to-face in this book – wow. I was riveted! I cannot wait to see how it all plays out in book 3.

As before, the supporting cast is brilliant. Karou’s best friend Zuzana and her boyfriend Mik play a significant role in this book and I’m so glad – they are so whimsical and adorable and bring just the right amount of light-hearted wit into the story to alleviate the despair. Akiva’s brother- and sister-in-arms also lend their quirky humour to the events, as well as their wisdom and support to the cause. Thiago makes the perfect villain – a beautiful and talented leader, but a chillingly evil psychopath at the same time.

Days of Blood and Starlight is a beautifully crafted roller-coaster ride from the depths of despair to a bright burst of hope, and back again. Laini Taylor’s writing is emotional and compelling – make sure you’ve got a few hours to sit down and read this one, because it won’t let you go! I’d happily recommend this series to all fantasy fans.

Warnings: Graphic violence, abusive situations.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor Book 3 coming in 2013!

 

What did others think of Days of Blood and Starlight?

  • “Shit has well and truly hit the fan. Oh look, apocalypse. How fun!” – 5 stars – Escape Through the Pages
  • “I feel the need to revisit Laini’s magnificent prose. Her writing is captivating and engaging, provoking vast feeling in you as a reader. She a way with words that not many other writers have (like Karen Marie Moning and Lauren Oliver), and it kept me enthralled every moment of the way, greedily gobbling up every word.” – 5 stars – Auntie Spinelli Reads
  • Days of Blood & Starlight is a gorgeously written, vividly drawn, page-turner.  Absolutely recommended for anyone loving a epic tale that is bigger than a romance, unique in its approach to age old creatures, and full of characters you can’t help but love (or hate as the case may be.)” – 5 stars – Refracted Light Reviews

Review: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, Christie Golden

Title: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects (Goodreads)
Author:  Christie Golden

Rating: ★★★½☆

When Azeroth was young, the noble titans appointed the five great dragonflights to safeguard the budding world. Each of the flights’ leaders was imbued with a portion of the titans’ vast cosmic powers. Together, these majestic Dragon Aspects committed themselves to thwarting any force that threatened the safety of Azeroth.

At the Maelstrom, the center of Azeroth’s instability, former Horde warchief Thrall and other accomplished shaman struggle to keep the world from tearing apart in the wake of Deathwing’s attack. Yet a battle also rages within Thrall regarding his new life in the shamanic Earthen Ring, hampering his normally unparalleled abilities.

Unable to focus on his duties, Thrall undertakes a seemingly menial task from an unexpected source: the mysterious green Dragon Aspect, Ysera. This humble endeavor soon becomes a journey spanning the lands of Azeroth and the timeways of history itself, bringing Thrall into contact with ancient dragonflights. 

Details

Series: World of Warcraft #9
Genre: Fantasy
Published: Simon & Schuster, February 2012
Pages: 432

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Barnes & Noble

Not available on Kindle in Australia, but might be in other countries!

Review

This is a World of Warcraft book, so I wrote this review assuming that you have some knowledge of Azeroth and the general timeline of the Cataclysm expansion. If you don’t, this book is probably not for you, but the earlier WoW books may help you to catch up.

After the Shattering of Azeroth by the evil dragon Deathwing, the elements are in turmoil. A group of Earthen Ring Shaman, Thrall among them, are at the Maelstrom trying to calm the raging elements and prevent the fabric of Azeroth from being ripped apart.

Elsewhere, after a horrific attack on the dragons while they are meeting at Wyrmrest Temple, the dragon flights are all but defeated and the Aspects are scattered. Malygos has been slain so the blue dragons are without a leader. Alexstrasza is devastated by the loss of her mate and brood, Ysera the Awakened is still unsure what is reality and what is a dream, and the bronze aspect Nozdormu is missing in the timeways. Ysera requests Thrall’s aid to bring the flights back together and unite them against the Twilight Cult and dragons that are threatening the frozen north and the whole of Azeroth.

The timeline of the events in this book as they relate to the Cataclysm expansion itself is not explained all that well in my opinion, but from what I can tell the events take place after Deathwing’s arrival, but before the Bastion of Twilight has been faced. Some of the events that take place are reminiscent of the Hour of Twilight heroic dungeons introduced to the game at the same time as the final battle against Deathwing, but by the end of this book the “Hour of Twilight” has not yet arrived. It doesn’t seem to quite tie in with events as they are in WoW, especially with the Elemental Bonds quest chain involving Thrall and Aggra that was introduced with the Firelands patch.

Overall, there is a lot of Lore crammed into this short-ish book. Such an epic tale feels slightly rushed and lacks the detail that could have made this story truly amazing. In addition, I don’t really like Christie Golden’s storytelling style. It’s very grandiose, and while that is fine for the discussion of world-changing events, doesn’t make the characters very relatable. She also uses “Too,” at the start of sentences. I have no idea if that’s grammatically correct or not but it looked all kinds of wrong to my (un-trained) eye!

Grammar and continuity quibbles aside, I enjoyed reading about Thrall’s journey around Azeroth in his quest to help the Aspects and, ultimately, to save the world. I loved reading about the characters and places I’ve been visiting in-game for several years. There are also some very emotional events and some exciting battle scenes that really bring the plight of the dragon flights to life.

I’d recommend this one to any Warcraft Lore-nerds who could like to know more about the dragon flights and the events just after Deathwing’s return.

Warnings: Graphic violence and abusive situations.

 

World of Warcraft books

  1. Cycle of Hatred, Keith RA DeCandido
  2. Rise of the Horde, Christie Golden
  3. Tides of Darkness, Aaron Rosenberg
  4. Beyond the Dark Portal, Aaron Rosenberg
  5. Night of the Dragon, Richard A Knaak
  6. Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, Christie Golden
  7. Stormrage, Richard A Knaak
  8. The Shattering, Christie Golden
  9. Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, Christie Golden
  10. Wolfheart, Richard A Knaak
  11. Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, Christie Golden

Review: Crewel, Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel (Goodreads)
Author:  Gennifer Albin (@genniferalbin)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Details

Series: Crewel World #1
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-fi
Published: Faber & Faber, October 2012
Pages: 360
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

You can read the first five chapters of Crewel for free on Nook!

Review

Adelice lives in Arras, a world woven into the fabric of time and space by the Spinsters. Being chosen as a Spinster would allow her a life of luxury and privilege that would never be within reach with her family in their neighbourhood, but when Adelice is identified as having the weaving ability during testing, her parents instead try to help her escape. The botched escape is a poor introduction for Adelice as she enters this new world and discovers its dark secrets.

Alternate cover for Crewel

I really enjoyed reading this exciting and occasionally heart-wrenching story. The world of Arras and the Spinsters is amazingly detailed and imaginative – in fact the details are often mind-boggling and leave more questions than the explanations provide!

Crewel gives us a glimpse into a world with control taken to the extreme, where every person is kept to their neighbourhoods with their family, girls and boys are kept segregated until marriagable age and men and women keep to their gender-specific jobs and roles. Those who don’t conform or who show behavioural anomalies are taken away to have their thread “cleaned” – to basically be reprogrammed. We’re never shown exactly who is actually in control, either – is it the Guild with their groups of Spinsters? Or the enigmatic Creweler who designs and weaves Arras into existence?

Adelice is brought into this world of intrigue – into the preening and pretend world of the Spinsters. She never really seems to accept it and fights against it at every opportunity, but while that is a very admirable quality in a heroine, in this case it is slightly puzzling. She knows that each time she steps out of line, someone close to her takes punishment for her, and yet she continues to do it. After a while I found her snarky nature a little annoying. Yes, there is a slightly unnecessary love triangle, but the romantic parts are very sweet and move the story along.

I do like the first book in a series to wrap up within itself rather than just end, but sadly, that’s exactly what happens with Crewel. The confrontations at the end build up and build up, and then we’re left hanging off the cliff with plenty of unanswered questions. I guess that’s what sells the next book though, isn’t it? It is a very well-written debut from Gennifer Albin though and I’ll look forward to more of her work!

I’d recommend Crewel to fans of Dystopian sci-fi with a romantic twist. I just hope the next book is due soon because wow, this book sure does hang off the proverbial cliff.

Warnings: Sexual references, but quite clean.

 

What did others think of Crewel?

  • “It’s engaging, falls on the thought-provoking side, and a touch magical.” – 3.5 stars – Paranormal Indulgence
  • “Crewel is original and unique – keeping me on the edge of my seat.” – 4 stars – Claire Reads
  • “Yes, it’s another dystopian work in a very dystopian saturated YA market, but I love the blending of dystopic, fantasy and science fiction genres and I really love the weaving/ world creating aspect of the story too.” – 4 stars – Flyleaf Review

Tour: Review: The Enchanted, K.B. Hoyle

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on The Enchanted blog tour! You can find the links to many more opinions and features on the book below my review.


Title: The Enchanted (Goodreads)
Author:   K.B. Hoyle (@kbhoyle_author)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Darcy Pennington’s course was plotted out for her long before she ever stepped foot in Alitheia. Finally willing to go along with her prophesied path, Darcy returns to the magical realm to find everything spiralling out of control.

A painful rejection almost pushes her to breaking, and when she and her friends finally confront one of Tselloch’s gateways, nothing turns out as expected. Darcy wonders, in the end, if there is any hope at all for her, or for Alitheia.

 

Details

Series: The Gateway Chronicles #4
Genre: Teen/YA Fantasy
Published: The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, October 18, 2012
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Writer’s Coffee Shop
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Writer’s Coffee Shop

Review

Please note: The Enchanted is the fourth in the series so this review may contain spoilers for earlier books. You’re welcome to check out my reviews for The Six,  The Oracle and The White Thread first, if you’re interested!

It’s time for Darcy and the rest of the Six to head back to camp with their families. They head to Alitheia full of hope, ready for a year involving a coronation, but events unfold almost immediately that change the plans for the year completely. Darcy must remain strong and support her friends as she faces the greatest threat yet.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this series as each book has been released this year and The Enchanted was no exception! The chosen Six are sixteen now, although they’ve lived the last three years twice. Their maturity is really starting to show in this book in the way they react to events and each other. They have all begun to rely on each other more, but apart from Darcy, we’re still not seeing a lot of the Six’s magic or special abilities yet.

Tellius is really starting to show what an amazing ruler he will be, now that he’s maturing and starting to take on the heavy burden of responsibility. The poor guy has been through so much trauma through his life that he believes himself cursed and won’t acknowledge his feelings for Darcy for fear that she’ll be taken from him next. Those feelings really set the scene for a tragic romance in this book.

The Enchanted is a very well-crafted episode in this series – with just the right amount of action, story development and changes in relationships, it was a pleasure to read. There’s a real sense of building up towards a larger event, and with only two books remaining in the series, it’ll be coming soon!

Once again, I’d recommend the Gateway Chronicles series to those who enjoy fantasy aimed at a young-YA crowd.

Warnings: Violence, but not graphic.

The Gateway Chronicles

 

About the Author

K. B. Hoyle is a wife to a wonderful husband, a mother to two rambunctious little boys, an expectant mother to baby number three, and has been a classical educator for five years. She always knew from a young age that she wanted to write stories that would inspire people. Her favorite genre to read and write is Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction, so that is where her journey began. K. B. Hoyle began writing her first fantasy novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be valuable experience and practice for the novels she would publish as an adult.

K. B. Hoyle is currently writing the Young Adult Fantasy series The Gateway Chronicles, but she never stops brainstorming and planning for all the stories she hopes to write in the future.

 

The Tour

Check out these other stops on the tour!

13 October – sherrygomes.com

14 Oct – Kid Who Reads (on Girl Who Reads)

15 Oct – Ms. Book Queen

16 Oct – Paperbook Princess

17 Oct – Girl Who Reads (excerpt)

18 Oct – The Oaken Bookcase!

19 Oct – Ja citam, a ti?

Tour: Roots of Insight, Breeanna Putroff – Review and Giveaway

Welcome to The Oaken Bookcase’s stop on the Roots of Insight blog tour! There’s a giveaway and links to the other stops on the tour below my review.


Title: Roots of Insight (Goodreads)
Author:  Breeanna Putroff (@BPuttroff)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Quinn Robbins has just returned from spending ten days in Eirentheos, a world she had never known existed. Trying to settle back into her familiar life and establish a relationship with her new boyfriend, Zander, is more of a challenge than she ever dreamed it would be.

Things are just beginning to feel normal again when Thomas shows up in her world, and invites her back to Eirentheos for a royal wedding. She’s excited at the chance to reconnect with the people and places she had begun to fall in love with.

What she doesn’t realize is just how deeply connected with this new world she might become … and just what old secrets might be beginning to unravel.

Details

Series: The Dusk Gate Chronicles #2 of 3
Genre: Teen/YA Fantasy
Published: Musefish Press, January 2012
Pages: 306
My copy: From the author as part of a blog tour.

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Please Note: This is my review for book 2 in this series. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers for the events of book 1, Seeds of Discovery, but you might like to go and read my review for that book instead if you haven’t read it already!

Quinn has just returned from her first trip to Eirentheos and things are starting to return to normal, more or less. The days pass with Quinn trying to concentrate on her school work and enjoy her new relationship with Zander, when Thomas shows up one Monday with William, inviting her to return to Eirentheos for their brother Simon’s wedding.

All is not as perfect in the other world as it was before – trouble is stirring in the neighbouring kingdom of Philotheum and Thomas tells Quinn he’s going to travel there to find his cousin Lily, who hasn’t been heard from in weeks. But when he doesn’t return, Quinn and William decide they must go to find him.

Roots of Insight is an exciting and quick read – if Seeds of Discovery was a little light plot-wise, Roots of Insight makes up for it. The story picks up from almost exactly where the first book finishes, and it takes a while to get back into action, but once it does it doesn’t let up.

Quinn is more vulnerable in this part of the story – she has panic attacks throughout the story and William isn’t always there to comfort her, but when they are together there is a lovely chemistry and slow-burning romance. He’s such a gentleman – we get to see more of his mature personality as parts of the story are told from his point of view. Poor Zander gets a bit of a raw deal in this book – he has really fallen for Quinn but she treats him terribly.

A cliffhanger ending means I’ll be trying to get my hands on the third book, Thorns of Decision, as soon as possible! There are still plenty of questions to be answered – there are continual hints that Quinn may be more than just a visitor to the other world, but nothing has been revealed just yet!

Roots of Insight is a more emotionally-charged and suspenseful read than the first book was, and I would certainly recommend it to those who enjoy teen fantasy.

Warnings: None, it’s squeaky clean.

 

The Dusk Gate Chronicles

Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Roots of Insight using the Rafflecopter form below! I’m assuming at this stage that it is open internationally. Good luck!

Please note: This giveaway is being run by Lightning Book Promotions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour

September 28th Rola @ XO reads (review)
September 29th Jessica @ Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile (review)
September 30th Kate @ Literary R&R (review)
September 30th Kristy @ Kristy K. James (guest post only)
September 30th Kristin @ Better Read Than Dead
October 1st Paula @ Community Bookstop
October 2nd Phaedra @ Identity Discovery
October 2nd Lisa @ Just Another Rabid Reader
October 3rd Angelya @ The Oaken Bookcase 
October 4th Megan @ Paperbook Princess
October 5th McKenna @ Young at Heart
October 6th Sheila @ Sheila Deeth

Review: Seeds of Discovery, Breeanna Putroff

Title: Seeds of Discovery (Goodreads)
Author:  Breeanna Putroff (@BPuttroff)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Quinn Robbins’ life was everything she thought a teenager’s should be. She has good friends, a family that she loves, good grades, and an after-school job she enjoys. And, she’s just been asked out by Zander Cunningham, a popular football player and great guy. But one day when driving home after picking up her little sister from the baby-sitter’s, she nearly hits a boy who, after running blindly into the street, mysteriously disappears.

The mystery only deepens as she figures out who the boy is; William Rose, a reclusive, awkward boy from school who always has his nose in a pile of books.

As she becomes more aware of his behavior it becomes more obvious how out of the ordinary William is and how hard he deliberately tries to blend into the background. This only intrigues her more and she finds herself working to find out more about him, and exactly where he keeps disappearing to.

Details

Series: The Dusk Gate Chronicles #1 of 3
Genre: Teen/YA Fantasy
Published: Musefish Press, September 2011
Pages: 288
My copy: From the author as part of a blog tour.

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk
E-copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble

Review

Quinn is driving home after picking up her little sister from the babysitter when she nearly runs over a boy in the street, who then disappears. She later recognises him as William Rose, a shy, reclusive boy in the year above her at school. She starts following him around to see what he’s up to, and (eventually) accidentally follows him through a gate to a whole other world and the Kingdom of Eirentheos. As it turns out, William is not only a Prince in this world, but also a gifted healer. William has been gathering medical research to try to discover the cause of a mysterious illness affecting children in the Kingdom. Quinn meets all the Royal family, then spends ten days with William and his family as they care for sick children before she can get back through the gate to her own world.

Firstly let me just say that I really enjoyed the style of this book. The writing is descriptive, the story is enjoyable to read, and it’s well-structured for an Indie-published book. The story itself is imaginative and contains so many promising elements – the Royal children’s gifts, the potential love interests, the fact that things keep being “inexplicably familiar” and comfortable to Quinn (which is a little annoying come to think of it).

Unfortunately, I felt this first instalment in the series really felt like a first part, rather than a first book. The plot was fairly light-on, with only a mysterious illness among the kingdom’s children to get to the bottom of. Other than a hint of possible friction between the Kingdoms when Tolliver was around, everything was peachy and a journey of discovery for Quinn. The Royal family were almost painfully kind and friendly, welcoming Quinn into their family like she was actually a friend of William’s rather than some girl who stalked him and then followed him through the gate. The characters are all  just a little too perfect for me at the moment. I hope that will change as the story progresses.

Over all I quite enjoyed reading Seeds of Discovery. It’s quite a short and easy read and with its minimal conflict, adorable small children and pleasant descriptions of Eirentheos, it’s a nice comforting read if you need one. Grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy.

Warnings: One almost-abusive situation that may distress some readers.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for my review of the second book in the series, Roots of Insight!

The Dusk Gate Chronicles

What did others think of Seeds of Discovery?

  • “The book was very well written. I liked the world the author thought up. It’s fantasy, but not a lot of high fantasy elements, like magic and other races and such, but just a parallel world kind of different from our own, but still a world that caught my imagination”  – 4/5 – Reading By Kindle Fire
  • “Filled with adventure, danger, mystery and a touch of romance this tale is sure to delight.” – 3/5 – Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
  • “This book is a fun and quick read and when the reader is finished they will want more. They will want to know more about Quinn, more of her relationships with Zander, Thomas, and William..” – Jackie Anton Book Reviews

 

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