Wonder Light by R.R Russell

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Title: Wonder Light
Author: R.R Russell
Series: Unicorns of the Mist
Edition: e-Book 248 pages
Publication Details: May 7th 2013 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre(s): Fantasy; Children’s
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Deep in the heart of a mist-shrouded island, an impossible secret is about to be discovered.

Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for “troubled” girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible — someone who needs her.

Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.

A baby unicorn.

Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island’s mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig’s to care for. That she needs Twig’s love and protection. Because there’s something out there in the deep, dense shadows that’s hunting for them…

Review


I read the second book in this series last year (over-zealous Netgalley request fail) and really wanted to love it but I didn’t know what the hell was going on. After seeing my review, the author got in touch and asked if I wanted the first book to see how the story began – and it might have taken me a lonnnnnnng time to get round to it, but I’m so glad I did.

Wonder Light is the story of Twig who is on her way to a secluded, potentially haunted island to live on a pony ranch for troubled children following an unknown incident.

Twig doesn’t expect to have a good time, fall in love with the ponies, or even make friends, but she does, and slowly she not only comes out of her shell, but also realises that she’s not a terrible person, in fact, she’s pretty cool.

A lot of this is down to Ben, a boy who seems to appear and disappear into the mist. And that’s not the only strange thing going on; there’s a herd of wild, vicious horses out there…but are they just horses?

I did have some issues with this book in the beginning, and I was worried that I would never get into it, but thankfully I did. Initially I found the world-building lacking and felt like some things should have been explained and described in more depth, especially considering the target audience, but this got much better as the book went on.

I wish that we got to understand Twig a lot sooner – I felt like I didn’t really know her or her story until mid-way which was frustrating. I really loved her by the end though!

From the cover, I was expecting this book to be kind of cutesy, but it’s really not. Wonder Light has moments of intensity, and even some scary ones. It’s full of action and felt like a real adventure. Sometimes however, it did feel like there was a lot going on. Good unicorns, bad unicorns, portals to another mysterious island, unicorn hunters, herders… I could go on!

I loved that it had a bit of everything and I was really surprised by how dark it was in places. I actually think boisterous boys would love this, and would look up to Ben and Merrill, and girls will want Twig as a BFF and be entranced by the ponies, unicorns and magic. Something for everyone!

unicorn rating 3

Lazy Saturday Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

fair
Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Edition: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Details: January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre(s): YA; Fairy-tale Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Review

I was reeeeeeeeeeeeally excited about this book just because I always NEED MORE LUNAR CHRONICLES, but I also wasn’t sure if I wanted Levana’s back story. She’s such a great villian, I was worried this spin-off book would endear me to her or at least feel sorry for her.

But, I glad that I didn’t. Yes, in Fairest we see Levana as a teen and the events that helped spark the madness in her, but Levana was well and truly messed up before her story starts in this book.

Fairest is a fast-paced, often uncomfortable read about a haunted, complex character who chooses to use her gifts for her own gain, to the detriment of those around her… and that’s an understatement. Levana is one batshit-crazy, evil madam, even at the age of fifteen. I loved it!

If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’m sure you’d love this one too. It also gives us more information on Winter, the eponymous character of book four, so I’d definitely recommend giving Fairest a go before the release of that one. Let’s face it, we have time. TOO MUCH TIME! 😦

unicorn rating 4

Fairest is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Paladins & Politeness: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

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Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Edition: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: March 3rd 2015 by Speak
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Review

If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, fast-paced read then Rebel Belle should be right up your alley. It does exactly what it says on the cover – ‘high spirits and high-jinks’ it certainly was. I came away feeling elated.

Harper Price is a bit of a goody-goody. She’s that girl in school who’s involved in all the extra curricular events and a bit of a teacher’s pet, but she’s also extremely popular – and I liked that. I’m bored of the popular girls being the mean girls!

She can also be seen as your typical southern belle. She’s polite to the point of annoying, and holds old-school values like always respecting your elders (even when they’re trying to kill you) and not cursing (even in the face of death).

It all begins when Harper is attacked in the school toilets and ends up killing a homicidal teacher with her stiletto, discovering that she appears to have super-strength, ninja-like abilities. FUN!

I pretty much liked everything about this book. The action was good, I was invested in the characters, and it made me laugh. There were a few moments when I snorted at the ridiculousness of it, but that shouldn’t come as surprise with a book that was pitched as Legally Blonde meets The Terminator – seriously!

I can’t help likening this to Buffy as well, and not just because there are references to Harper trying to find ‘her Giles’; it has that perfect balance of wit, high-school drama, and mythology, not to mention an awesome, reluctant heroine.

Can’t wait for the next book!

unicorn rating 4

Cherry-loving Wolves, Bloody Knives, and People Made of Magic…

Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

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Title: Of Scars and Stardust
Author: Andrea Hannah
Series: N/A
Edition: ARC, 366 pages
Publication Details: October 8th 2014 by Flux
Genre(s): Mystery; Thriller; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she’s been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her “delusions,” Claire can’t seem to escape the wolf’s eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she’s ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella’s trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister’s disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella’s past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.

Woah. This book.

I have a total book hangover from this so please excuse my babbling review.

First of all, I didn’t even read the synopsis of this book before I picked it up. I requested it on the basis of the title and the cover alone, and went into it pretty blind and I’m so glad I did.

Not that I think it would have been any less amazing if I’d heard more about it, but I wasn’t expecting that.

Claire is living an average teenage existence in Ohio, going to bonfire parties where they drink cherry vodka and tell stories about the wolves that stalk the cornfields. Claire’s little sister, Ella is full of creativity and imagination and sees the world through magical eyes like only an eight year old can.

When Ella is asked to leave a party that she followed Claire to, she’s attacked on her way back. Her face will never be the same again, and Claire, now obsessed with the wolves that she believes attacked her is shipped off to New York. The only thing that brings her back to Ohio is when Ella disappears.

Of Scars and Stardust completely blew me away if you can’t tell already. It was a mystery, a psychological thriller, a romance, and it was written so beautifully it made me want to cry.

I loved how Claire saw her sister, and tried to make sense of the world as she saw it. She was terrified, damaged, and often alone, but she never felt like a victim. As the book went on it became clear that not only did Claire not know who to trust, but we as readers are not sure if we can trust her either.

I don’t think I even took a breath during the second half of this book, I was literally on the edge of my seat – which is pretty hard to do when you read in bed. If someone could come and pick my jaw up off the carpet, that would be great.

I loved setting, I loved the characters and I loved the uniqueness of this book, but I don’t want to say much more about it in case I ruin it for others.

What I will say, is that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to start over. Therefore, I give it all of the unicorns. Keep them all. And let them breed.

unicorn rating

Pre-order Of Scars and Stardust now, you won’t regret it!

Blog Tour: Eden Forest by Aoife Marie Sheridan (Review & Giveaway)

eden

Today, Aoife Marie Sheridan stops by on her blog tour for the first book in her Saskia Trilogy, Eden Forest, a fast-paced YA Fantasy.

Eden Forest (Saskia Trilogy #1)

EDEN Sarajane Anderson is your regular twenty one year old. With family, friends and a normal job. She also happens to be the only person who can save Saskia, a world parallel to earth.

When Sarajane is taken to Saskia, she could never have imagined the reality of the world she steps into, a world where magical abilities are in everyone’s possession.

She must face a father she never knew, a world that is beyond her belief. A guardian who captures her heart, and a darkness that wants to take it.

On this journey Sarajane discovers her magical abilities and realizes they come with a price. Sarajane is truly tested, as her loved ones are put at risk. The question she must ask herself is, how do you choose who lives and who dies?

Add Eden Forest on Goodreads

Purchase:
Amazon
B&N

My Review

Eden Forest is told through the perspectives of protagonist Sarajane, her mother who had disappeared without a trace, and Bellona, the evil queen of Saskia.

Saskia is a world parallel to earth in which magic exists and people are categorised into whichever type of magic they show an affinity for, earth, air, fire or water. It is here that Sarajane is reunited with her mother, but at the same time she’s thrust into a world in turmoil. It’s up to Sarajane to save Saskia from Queen Bellona and the angel Lucian who are hell-bent on destroying everything.

After what I found to be a slow start, Eden Forest really picked up the pace and I didn’t want to stop reading. The characters are all well rounded enough to either love or hate them (I can’t stand wishy-washy characters). Queen Bellona was a great villian; both evil and intelligent, and Sarajane was the perfect ratio of innocence and sass.

Sheridan did a good job at world-building here too. Saskia is a complex place with its own history, morals and values, and I was pleased that we learnt about the creation of the world, even if I felt we were told too much too quickly sometimes.

The main thing that fascinated me about this story, was the way it looked at relationships and family. Sarajane was judged harshly for her mother’s relationship with the King, even though it was pretty clear that he loved her, not to mention that Queen is totally evil. I also really liked the whole ‘matching’ thing.

I also loved the friendship that developed between Sarajane and Alana – who she appoints as her personal guardian – despite women not usually being permitted to fight, and I thought the love story between Sarajane and Tristan was exciting and realistic. He definitely did it for me…Tristan’s are always hot!

Eden Forest is an ambitious, entertaining story. Once I was sucked in, I couldn’t put it down. At times, I felt like I was being told too much at once, and there was quite a lot of telling not showing, but considering the scope of the story it’s not surprising…there was a lot to explain!

I have the feeling that this series will get better and better.

unicorn rating 3
(3.5/5 – but I can’t chop a unicorn in half!)

Meet the Author

aoifeAoife Marie Sheridan has loved reading from a very young age, starting off with mills and boon’s books, given to by her grandmother her love for romances grew, by the age of 14 she had read hundreds of them.

Aoife had a passion for writing poetry or in her eyes her journal entries. It was something she did throughout her teens and into her twenties. Aoife won first place for two of her poems and had them published at a young age of just nineteen. Realising she needed to get a real job (What writing isn’t) she studied accountancy and qualified working in that field for many years, until her passion for reading returned and she found Maria V Snyder. Poison study one of her favourite books has been read and re-read countless times.

Aoife’s first book Eden Forest (Part one of the Saskia Trilogy) came to be after a dream of a man and woman on a black horse jumping through a wall of fire and the idea of Saskia was born. Now with her first novel published and taking first place for Eden Forest with Writers Got Talent 2013, Aoife continues to write tales of fantasy and is currently working on her third book for the Saskia Trilogy amongst other new works.

LINKS:
Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

*Giveaway*

Aoife is giving away 2 e-copies of Eden Forest, and 2 e-copies of book 2, City of Secrets. Open Internationally.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

Secrets & Lies: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

17167166 (1) An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

This book was actually lot to different to what I was expecting. For some reason I thought it was going to be about Celaena, now the King’s Champion, killing people against her will but then rebelling and fighting back, or fighting for her freedom. But it wasn’t really.

I mean, sure she was tricking the King into thinking she was fulfilling her duties but I expected more Celaena Vs the King going on, I thought she’d escape and start a rebel group or something.

Anywayyyyyyyy, that didn’t happen…but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy what did happen!

I especially enjoyed seeing Celaena properly kicking ass in this book because in Throne of Glass there was a lot of talk about her kicking ass but we didn’t get to witness much of it. We just had to have faith that she was as awesome as people described her.

As for the love interests, well. Obviously I’m rooting for Prince Dorian because, he’s a Prince and got that brooding, wounded heart thing going for him. But I like Chaol too even if he was a bit soppy. I generally don’t get on with characters that are too nice (Peeta) and soppy all the time, such is the blackness of my heart. But in the end I did warm to him.

I think my favourite parts of Crown of Midnight were those involving Mort, a talking brass gargoyle-type knocker thing a-la Labyrinth (The best film ever) and Baba Yellowlegs, a terrifying witch with iron teeth who Dorian and Celaena seek out for answers. She was a hoot.

Oh, and here’s one for the Buffy fans out there:

But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.

yourgift

All in all, I’m still pretty in love with Celaena but I think there is so much more that needs to happen. I felt like Maas was holding back on too much and I’m impatient. I want to know it all right now! I’m already praying for next book to land swiftly!

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: None, I bought it!
Details: Paperback, 418 pages
Publication Date: Published August 15th 2013 by Bloomsbury Children’s
My Rating: 4/5
Is it a Keeper? YES!
If you liked this try: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends out there!

The Perfect Picture Book This Christmas?

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It’s Christmas and two tree decorations – cardboard prince Rudolph and clothes peg fairy Rosalind – are discarded for being too shabby. Christmas Eve magic brings the toys in the cupboard to life, and when they discover their two friends are not on the tree, they search for them. However, while they are away, a Fouly – the exact opposite of a Christmas Fairy – sneaks in and hides. Unaware of the evil creature’s presence, the toys return with Rudolph and Rosalind, who have also been transformed, and they all help prepare a festive feast. During this the Fouly steals Rosalind’s wand and uses it to kidnap Father Christmas… Rudolph and Rosalind go to rescue him, but they must first seek out Santa Lucia for the one thing Foulies hate the most: the Lucia Light.

Their mission takes them to the Fouly Castle, but they are captured and confronted by Malicia the Fouly Queen. Using the Light, they defeat Malicia, free Father Christmas and return home. But the Fouly follows, seeking revenge, and – backed by a fierce Holly Army – the battle for Christmas begins… Will the Fouly be defeated? Will Rudolph and Rosalind be thrown away, or will the gratitude of Father Christmas help them regain their places at the top of the tree?

The Prince, The Fairy and The Fouly is a charming adventure story which combines all the elements of a traditional Christmas tale with a variety of characters and situations that highlight the battle between good and evil.

Resplendent with beautiful black and white illustrations, it’s the perfect bedtime story for children aged 7+ in the run-up to Christmas, and an ideal stocking filler. Its large format and presentation make the book ideal for emergent readers.

I read this when I was ill in bed yesterday and it cheered me up immensely. I’m not sure that lengthy synopsis is really necessary though!

The story centers around two discarded Christmas decorations and their friends who come alive each Christmas Eve and host a party for Father Christmas. However, there are evil Foulies lurking and one of them is so jealous of the fun they are all having, he kidnaps Father Christmas, putting Christmas in Jeopardy for everyone.

This is a traditional story that I can easily picture families reading together at Christmastime. It has just enough danger and action to be interesting and just enough magic to be beautiful. But the main star here is definitely the illustrations. The illustrator has done a beautiful job and the cover really doesn’t do it justice. The Christmas pictures are dazzling and the Foulies are truly sinister with their spidery limbs and hairy coats.

I loved the monster’s ball and the resolution to the story, Fitzsimmons manages to cram in a lot of detail in very few words. I only really had one gripe – the cardboard Prince’s name, Rudolph – I felt might be a bit confusing for children especially when Rudolph takes Father Christmas’ reindeer to go and save him…or is it just me?

Anywayyyyy, if I had a 6-8 year old child in the family, I wouldn’t hesitate in buying this for them this Christmas, it would make a lovely present.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for an HONEST review. Many Thanks!
Title: The Prince, The Fairy and The Fouly
Author: Jim Fitzsimmons
Details: E-book
Publication Date: November 4th 2013 by Troubador Publishing Ltd.
My Rating: 4/5
If you liked this try: Christmas Tales by Enid Blyton