Sinners & Shadowmen: When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes

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Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

I have been following Amber Skye Forbes’ blog for a short while but I hadn’t read much about the actual plot of her forthcoming debut When Stars Die. What I did know is that Amber’s all into ballet and stuff, the title sounds magical and the cover is pretty so when the opportunity came up to get an advanced copy to review I was thrilled and as soon as I started reading I knew instantly that this book was absolutely nothing like I was expecting.

From the very beginning it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a happy, soppy love story. Amber created a dark, mysterious and ominous atmosphere right from the get-go and I was entranced. Amelia is at Cathedral Reims -such a great name- where she is undergoing trials to prove that she deserves to be, and can handle the life of a nun. Straight away I was glued, the main leaders or teachers (whatever you’d like to call them) Mother Aureilia and Theosodore came across as incredibly sinister and cold, and the trials themselves were a lot nastier and darker than I would have first imagined.

And then, as you’d imagine, the plot thickens!

I loved the idea of the Shadowmen prowling around Cathedral Reims looking for witches and when Colette bursts into flames I had surprised cat face for at least 5 seconds. We soon come to realise that this world is nothing like ours.

People are born witches as a punishment to parents who have sinned, so basically there’s a whole lot of witches! And when witches die they become Shadowmen, and the whole thing is driven by the evil, manipulative God Deus. Now, I’m not religious but I am fascinated by it and I thought the ideas and themes here were really interesting. I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything quite like this, which is something you don’t get to say very often.

That being said, there were a lot of things that hindered my enjoyment as the book went on. When Stars Die is set in the 1800s but it’s written in a modern style. I’m not usually a stickler for things like that but I frequently found words and phrases that I couldn’t help but go ‘surely that wouldn’t have been said in the 1800s?’ It distracted me a little.

I also felt the dialogue let it down slightly as it didn’t seem very natural to me and I wished I liked Amelia more as a protagonist. She didn’t really do anything wrong but I felt I couldn’t warm to her because other than being there to save her brother’s soul I wasn’t convinced by any of the motivations for her actions. I never really got to know her as a person.

I wouldn’t classify this as a paranormal romance, as it was a pretty bad romance but the setting and Amber’s descriptions of the world she has created here were really what made this book for me. That and the genius idea to use first person – present tense really made it stand out. It was a unique read and the Epilogue has certainly intrigued me enough to look forward to the sequel.

Details: E-book, 267 Pages. Released 22nd October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing
Unicorn Rating: 3 out of 5 (if I could chop one in half to make it 3.5 I would, but I can’t chop up a unicorn)
Is it a keeper? Yes
If you liked this try: I don’t know why but Gormenghast was the first thing that came to mind. So I’m going with it.

Chastity & Chainmail: Daughter of Camelot (Empire of Shadows #1) by Glynis Cooney

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Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

I’d actually say that Daughter of Camelot is quite a gentle-paced book but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I was never bored. I read most of this on Sunday afternoon and it was a perfect read for a lazy day. I loved it.

Deirdre is everything I like in a protagonist. She’s bored and down-right aggravated by the limitations of being a girl in those times. She has little interest in being just a wife or mother and her ambition knows no bounds. She seeks a life of excitement and meaning and growing up surrounded by boys in training to be knights at a nearby fort only makes her desire for adventure stronger.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the darker elements of the story. For one, I wasn’t expecting Deirdre’s new life at court to be so intense. Just like Deirdre herself, I imagined she would go there as a guest to the king & queen and flit around in pretty dresses wooing noble knights and attending parties but that was far from the truth!

With growing worries about the allegiances of the court – For King Arthur or against him- the obsessive practices of Christianity imposed by the unsavory King Maelgwyn, and sexually aggressive knights hoping to sully Deirdre’s reputation, her new life was far from simple. And just one mistake gets her banished from the castle, leading her to take up Sir Einion’s invitation to join him at Din Arth.

I quite liked Einion as a love interest, but after seeing how awful all of the other knights behaved it was definitely hard to trust him. I think it’s clear from the start that Deirdre’s best friend Ronan would be a better pick for her and I enjoyed seeing how the relationships developed.

As Daughter of Camelot neared its end I did think that perhaps it was unnecessarily long, especially for its target audience, but then it did had a lot of scope. My one issue with it though, was that I felt the final battle was a bit of an anti-climax. But it certainly wouldn’t put me off reading the next in the series, quite the opposite in fact.

I’m a fan of Arthurian Literature and obvs a fan of YA Lit so it didn’t take much for me to love this book but I think anyone who enjoys being swept along on a medieval action-adventure will find a lot to like here.

Details: Paperback, 421 pages.
Expected publication: September 24th 2013 by Mabon Publishing
Unicorn Rating: 4/5
Is it a keeper? Yes!
If you like this try: The Seeing Stone – Kevin Crossley-Holland

*Cover Reveal* When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes

WhenStarsDie

Title: When Stars Die
Author: Amber Skye Forbes
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release: October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing
Book Design: Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art

Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

You can find Amber on:

Facebook
Website
WordPress Blog
Twitter
Tumblr

WWW Wednesday! (17-09-2013)

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:
When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes: This ARC SO different to what I was expecting. Seriously riveted! More on this later 🙂

Recently Finished:
I had a v. productive week last week. Whoop.
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The Eye of the Moon (Bourbon Kid #2) by Anonymous: Another insane, darkly hilarious violent thriller/horror by this particular Anonymous. My review is here.

Daughter of Camelot by Glynis Cooney. LOVED this YA novel set at the tumultuous end of the Arthurian Era. Review to follow.

And I also finished rereading City of Bones before I went to see the film. My review/rant is here.

Up Next:
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The Polaris Whisper by Kenneth Gregory. Really looking forward to this ARC.

It is a dark time. For decades Hakon the Black, the most feared Norse Lord of the ninth century, has conducted bloody and gruesome raids throughout Europe, and laid his claim upon the seas. But it is also a time of hope.

In the frozen wastelands of the north, Vidar searches for the Vestibule of Light. Alone, freezing and exhausted, he pushes on through the endless winter in the belief that once his quest is complete, he may return to the life he has left behind, and to Niclaus, the son he was forced to abandon. For Niclaus has a greater destiny – one foretold by Cado, the enigmatic Small Walker – and Vidar is but one player in the boy’s life. Cado has enlisted the help of protectors from all corners of the Earth to shield Niclaus: men whose worlds are connected by only the loosest of threads.

But as Niclaus becomes older, and the various worlds begin to converge, will Vidar and Cado have to make sacrifices beyond imagining to protect those they love.

Leave the link to your post in the comments below 🙂

Upcoming Releases (plus Goodreads Giveaway *klaxon*)!

I have some AMAZING looking ARCs waiting for me in my NetGalley Library at the moment that I’m really excited about. So here’s what you can expect to see soon on Lipsyy Lost & Found.

18298164I’m a huge fan of Norse Mythology so I had to request this book. It sounds awesome.

Title: The Polaris Whisper
Author: Kenneth Gregory
Details: 400 pages
Expected Publication: September 25th 2013 by Blackstaff Press Ltd

It is a dark time. For decades Hakon the Black, the most feared Norse Lord of the ninth century, has conducted bloody and gruesome raids throughout Europe, and laid his claim upon the seas. But it is also a time of hope.

In the frozen wastelands of the north, Vidar searches for the Vestibule of Light. Alone, freezing and exhausted, he pushes on through the endless winter in the belief that once his quest is complete, he may return to the life he has left behind, and to Niclaus, the son he was forced to abandon. For Niclaus has a greater destiny – one foretold by Cado, the enigmatic Small Walker – and Vidar is but one player in the boy’s life. Cado has enlisted the help of protectors from all corners of the Earth to shield Niclaus: men whose worlds are connected by only the loosest of threads.

But as Niclaus becomes older, and the various worlds begin to converge, will Vidar and Cado have to make sacrifices beyond imagining to protect those they love.

I requested this for the cover alone!

Title: Words Once Spoken
Author: Carly Drake
Details: E-book
Expected Publication: October 2013 by Escape Publishing

YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

*Goodreads Giveaway*

Fearsome Dreamer(Fearsome Dreamer #1) by Laure Eve

Despite not being very enamored with the cover, I found the synopsis of this pretty intriguing. Click on the image to visit Goodreads and enter the giveaway.

17930217 There is a world where gods you’ve never heard of have wound themselves into hearts, and choice has led its history down a different path.

This is a world where France made a small, downtrodden island called England part of its vast and bloated empire.

There are people here who can cross a thousand miles with their minds. There are rarer people still who can move between continents in the blink of an eye.

These people are dangerous.

And wanted. Desperately wanted.

Apprentice hedgewitch Vela Rue knows that she is destined for more. She knows being whisked off from a dull country life to a city full of mystery and intrigue is meant to be. She knows she has something her government wants, a talent so rare and precious and new that they will do anything to train her in it.

But she doesn’t know that she is being lied to. She doesn’t know that the man teaching her about her talent is becoming obsessed by her, and considered by some to be the most dangerous man alive …

Giveaway ends on the 24th September

Coming Up: Daughter of Camelot (Empire of Shadows #1)

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Title: Daughter of Camelot (Empire of Shadows #1)
Author: Glynis Cooney
Details: Paperback, 421 pages
Expected Publication: September 24th 2013 by Mabon Publishing

Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

Synopsis & Image from Goodreads. Click the image to fly there.

A Winter’s Tale: Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll

Title: Frost Hollow Hall
Author: Emma Carroll
Details: E-book, Paperback, 368 pages
Expected Publication: October 3rd 2013 by Faber and Faber
Disclosure: Thanks to Emma Carroll & Faber and Faber for providing a copy for an HONEST review
My Rating: 4 Unicorns out of 5

The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.

I fell in love with the cover and synopsis of Frost Hollow Hall from the moment I saw it. Mainly because I’m a bit strange and actually looking forward to Winter. There’s just something magical and mysterious about Winter and the cover promises these in abundance.

I was not disappointed. Tilly is a great protagonist. She’s kind and hopeful despite the rough hand she’s been dealt. Poor Tilly is used to being second best; always in the shadow of her sister who constantly sides with her mum leaving Tilly feeling left out and like the black sheep but Tilly doesn’t let it get her too down, she’s independent and headstrong.

When Will Potter dares her to go ice-skating on the frozen lake in the forbidden grounds of Frost Hollow Hall she goes along. Not because she likes him like all of the other girls in the village but because she craves adventure and excitement in her life. This is when the story comes into its own. Emma Carroll’s descriptive prose is perfect in portraying Frost Hollow Hall as an intimidating yet beautiful place, full of mystery and dark secrets.

Spread out before us was the thickest, most marvellous frost I’d ever seen. The grass was so pale it might have been snow, the trees all white like bones.

I was so intrigued by the place, I was instantly hooked and wanted a glimpse inside even more than Tilly.

And then there’s Kit Barrington, who appears to Tilly when the inevitable accident happens and she falls through the ice. He’s a beautiful ghost and needs her help. I do wish we’d seen more of Kit in the story though as he was the driving force behind everything that happens but we only encounter him properly that one time and in Tilly’s dreams. I wanted more – probably because I couldn’t help but picture him as a younger version of Kit ‘you know nothing Jon Snow’ Harington from Game of Thrones…err hot.

Will is pretty cute too and I’m glad this never really turned into a love-triangle. I like how Will started off almost arrogant and annoying but throughout the story we see kindness in his actions and it becomes clear that he really does care for Tilly. I was rooting for him by the end.

Thanks to Tilly’s strong characterisation I was invested in all the goings on at Frost Hollow Hall. When Tilly was excited, (despite all of the other maids being terrified) I was excited, when she was scared, I was scared for her…I love stories that are rollercoasters, and this definitely was. The pace only dropped once and I found myself wanting to skip on once Tilly had gotten the job as a maid but hadn’t managed to find much out about Kit or the Barringtons but it soon picked up again when the ghostly activity was cranked up a notch.

With creepy rooms, terrified maids, a house-keeper who seems to be hiding something and Lady Barrington mad with mourning, Frost Hollow Hall is a compelling read.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of Children’s or YA Historical Fiction out there and this made me wish there was. Carroll’s narrative voice and descriptive language set the scene and time excellently and I loved it. The perfect book to curl up with on a cold, dark night.

Follow Emma Carroll on twitter @emmac2603

ARC Giveaway: The Screaming Staircase (Children’s/YA Supernatural)

The Amazing World Book Day have another great YA giveaway this month. Get Involved Here.

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FIVE advance copies of Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase to be won!

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

‘You’ll want to leave the lights on . . . Stroud is a genius’ Rick Riordan

Closes at midnight on Friday 13th September 2013

Upcoming Release! (I’m a NetGalley convert)

I was a bit dubious of signing up to NetGalley or any of the other reader services out there because I’m not a huge fan of reading e-books, and I like to feel free to read what I want, when I want.

But, I’ve come to realise that I should really review more new and upcoming releases..it’s my duty as a book blogger, right? It’s got nothing to do with getting free books…honest. So I caved, and wow…how easy was that! I’ve been approved for my first ‘assignment’ and I’m actually really excited about reading it; it looks awesome!

Winter is Coming!
Winter is Coming!

Title: Frost Hollow Hall
Author: Emma Carroll
Details: E-book, Paperback, 368 pages
Expected Publication: October 3rd 2013 by Faber and Faber

The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.

Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.

Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington’s ghost.

Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It’s all about the dead here, she’s told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .

Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly’s unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.