Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine #BookReview #YA

 

princeofshadowsTitle: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: February 4th 2014 by Allison & Busby
Genre(s): YA; Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

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From the author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series comes an exciting retelling of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

‘A plague! A plague on both your houses!’

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and – if they survive – marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona – and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona.

Review

I have to say I was pretty sceptical going into this but I was intrigued regardless. Having read Caine’s Morganville Vampire series (or most of them at least), I was pretty shocked to find this in the library. A Shakespeare retelling, really? Hmm…

You can’t help but love the tale of the two doomed lovers, right? And you know what, this wasn’t a bad retelling. It’s told from Benvolio’s POV, who is forcibly entrusted to keep his cousin and Capulet heir, Romeo, on the straight and narrow. But that pesky boy has a habit of getting into serious trouble and falling in love with all the wrong girls. Then there’s his bff Mercutio with his own doomed love Tomasso, both of whom will be killed if discovered. Poor Benvolio has got a lot on his plate!

On one hand I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading from Benvolio’s point of view. It was an action-packed, fun retelling with a modern twist. The pages flew by. But on the other hand I did find myself cringing a lot. ‘Shakespeare turning in his grave’ was a phrase which often sprang to mind. But I guess there would be no point in retelling it without a new spin on the traditional.

I felt like the whole business with the curse was a double-edged sword. It made the story new and fresh, and Caine does paranormal very well, such is her remit! But for me, it meant that the story lost all its romance. Which is surely the point of any Romeo & Juliet story?

I really respect Rachel Caine for taking on such an iconic story and introducing a fantasy element. It’s a pretty bold move, and I think it mostly worked. Her writing is always so readable. Not one for the purists though, obviously.

unicorn rating 3

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The Witches of New York by Ami McKay #BookReview #Magic

a7Title: The Witches of New York
Author: Ami McKay
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: October  2016 by Orion Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Magic Realism; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients.

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

Review

Although not a sequel, this book follows a character from McKay’s acclaimed novel The Virgin Cure, which if I had known before (lack of research on my part) would perhaps have put me off requesting it. Fortunately it didn’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, my first foray into the world of Ami McKay didn’t quite beguile me like I thought it would. 

The Witches of New York follows young Beatrice who is seeking employment. When she sees an advert in the paper from a strange-sounding tea shop where ‘those averse to magic need not apply’, she feels like this will be the start of a new life for her, and it is.

Owned by Adelaide, a seer (and Moth from The Virgin Cure) and Eleanor, a witch, the tea shop is a front to a growing magic business. Beatrice soon becomes an invaluable apprentice but her visions begin to haunt her, and she’s weakened and easily exploited.

I liked some parts of this book, but I just don’t think I was in the mood for it. I can imagine enjoying a lazy Sunday reading this, but trying to read it during a busy schedule didn’t work. The pace was painfully slow and although the descriptions were beautiful and elegant, they were subtle and drawn-out. I found myself skim reading a lot.

This novel does have a great magic-realism atmosphere, and McKay is clearly a talented writer, but this book was too light for me. She reminded me a lot of Alice Hoffman, albeit with something missing.

However, I liked the way she presents these real-life witches – as strong, independent women in an era where women had no rights, were discriminated against, and most certainly should not have worked in a shop, never mind owned one. AND I liked that the heart of this book was about women’s relationships in that hard time where it was extremely brave of them to be proud of who they are.

Basically, I enjoyed what McKay was tying to do here, but I needed more to take hold of to keep me interested in the plodding plot.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Picture Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… A Halloween-related freebie! 

It took me a while to decide what to do for this open Halloween topic. But after much deliberation I went for a change of pace in the Horror October proceedings and decided to go for my top Halloweeny picture books for children.

There are so many great classic ones that I still remember from my childhood, but I also wanted to showcase some of the newer books out there so my TTT is split into two parts this week.

Top 5 Classic Picture Books for Halloween

Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson

In a Dark Dark Room – Alvin Schwartz

Pumpkin Soup – Helen Cooper

Mystery Tour – Allan Ahlberg

Badjelly the Witch – Spike Milligan

 

Top 5 Modern Picture Books for Halloween

Baba Yaga – An Leysen

Gracie meets a Ghost – Keiko Sena

The Wolves in the Walls – Neil Gaiman

One, Two, Boo! – Kristen Depken

Halloween Hustle – Charlotte Gunnufson

What would have made your list?

 

 

Labyrinth Lost #BookReview #YA

summer16.3Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Format: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Review

I was dying to read this as soon as I saw that stunning cover. It’s also not often you come across YA books built upon Latin American culture. So WIN.

Labyrinth Lost is the story of Alex and her close family of bruja’s – sort of witches. Alex, a middle sister, should have come into her gift by now and had her Deathday ceremony just like her older sister and and her parents before her. Little do they know that Alex’s magic is much, much stronger than they ever imagined and she’s been hiding it for years. 

Unfortunately, an incident exposes Alex’s magic and her family rally around to arrange her Deathday party – the one thing Alex was fearing – as once the dead are raised and her magic is blessed, she will be stuck with it forever.

However, the ceremony doesn’t exactly go to plan for anyone, and Alex’s family disappear leaving just her and brujo Nova to journey through the Labyrinth of Los Lagos to reclaim their souls. 

This was a book of two halves for me. I was absolutely entranced with the  first half. I loved Alex and her family. Her relationship with her sisters was so full of love but fraught with annoyances it really rang true. 

I also loved the dynamic between Alex and her best friend, and felt for her for having to keep so many secrets from colourful Rishi. 

Córdova brings Latin American history, spirituality and mythology to the forefront in Labyrinth Lost and I found it spellbinding. I did however, think it lost a lot of pace when they got Los Lagos – a definite downside to creating a dreamy, psychedelic limbo – I did wish it moved along a bit faster during the second half. I also thought the believability factor was stretched to breaking point in parts.

Overall though, this was a quick, interesting read which stands out from a lot of generic YA fantasy. The mythology Córdova built on and evolved was a delight, and now I’d love to read more about Latin American beliefs. It was also nice to see a gay relationship in here – although I wasn’t convinced of Alex’s feelings half as much as I was the other character’s.

unicorn rating 3

 

Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone #BookReview #LGBTReads

gloveTitle: Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone
Author: Rachel White
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 205 pages
Publication Details: June 8th 2016 by Less Than Three Press
Genre(s): Fantasy; LBGT
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Enne Datchery and Muriel vas Veldina, ex-lovers and witches with a shared apprentice, are tasked by the Citadel, to repair an old grimoire together, despite the fact their relationship is tense at best.

The situation is further complicated when the book is stolen, and tracking down the thief stirs even more of Muriel’s past. It swiftly becomes clear to the two that dealing with their fractured relationship is going to be the easy part of the assignment—if they can live long enough to complete it.

Review

I had it in my mind that this would be a sort of YA Sarah Waters’ with magic, but I was wrong. It’s not even YA, although to be fair it read like YA and the only thing that made me realise it wasn’t was a sex scene which sprouted the C word. 

Muriel and Enne are ex-lovers and business partners in their thirties which is considered too old to be single so you can tell what kind of era this world evokes. Their apprentice is basically their adopted child and her upbringing is just one of many things they bicker about. Constantly. 

When the High Circle (magic HQ) ask them to repair a grimoire they fail to tell them anything about it, even what kind of magic it contains. It turns out to a book of destruction (which is bad) and Muriel’s other ex-girlfriend steals it and tries to destroy the world. 

I really thought this was a great basis for a story and don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it the whole way through. But that’s all it was, a basis for a story. It was very short and very…basic. There were no sub-plots or twists; nothing going on outside Muriel and Enne’s bickering as they try to find the grimoire and stop the baddie. It felt like it should have been a short story to me. 

If you’re looking for a super quick read which has LGBT characters and magic, then give it go. It’s written well too, I just wanted more. Lots more. 

unicorn rating 3

Book Promo – Thirst: Blood of my Blood #indyauthors

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found, where I’m always thrilled to support independent authors and publishers.

Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the debut novel by R.P Channing and sounds like a mixture of all my favourite genres; YA; Paranormal Romance; Vampire Fic; Dark Fantasy – and all in a high school setting. Hurrah!

Thirst: Blood of my Blood

thirst

Author: R.P Channing
Editions: Kindle/e-book, 243 pages
Publication Details: November 26th 2015

Goodreads // Amazon UK // Amazon US

~ Kira Sutherland ~

After a near fatal accident (and getting cheated on by her ‘boyfriend’), and beating up the lead cheerleader (with whom the boyfriend cheated…), and being labeled as having ‘issues’ in her school because she, uhm, sees ghosts, Kira is left with two choices:

1. Continue her ‘therapy’ (where she’s told the ghost is a hallucination and also gets her legs ogled too often…)

2. Go to Starkfield Academy, a boarding school for “Crazies and Convicts” (as the social media sites call them.)

She chooses the latter…

~ Cory Rand ~

Cory Rand has not had an easy life. His mother died in a car accident when he was twelve, and so did his mother’s best friend…sort of. You see, Janice made a promise to take care of Cory just before she died, and so she lingers. Undead. A ghost that watches him.

Brought up in an abusive home, Cory quickly falls into a life of disreputable behavior. After his third offense (which was prompted by a girl, as usual – he has a weakness) he’s left with two choices:

1. Be tried as an adult and share a cell with a guy named Bubba (he thinks…)

2. Go to Starkfield Academy, which Cory is pretty sure is run by vampires. But, hey, at least he’ll get an education.

He chooses the latter…

It’s at Starkfield that Kira meets Cory Rand, a boy with an insatiable Rage who sees ghosts, too. As well as other things, other things from his past, things that confuse him, things like fire and witches and demons.

Things he’s always ignored.

Until now.

Excerpt

thirst2

PROLOGUE

The Puppy Eyes

My life was perfect.

I had the perfect shoes and the perfect friends and I lived in the perfect house. My nails were perfect and my hair was perfect (except on Sundays, it was always windy on Sundays) and I had the perfect clothes. My lips were a perfect red and my hair perfectly straight. My eyeshadow was perfect, my hips were…okay, and my waist…well…also okay.

Nothing was wrong in my life.

But then there was Jack.

Jack was a problem.

He needed to go. I mean, when you’re dead, you’re dead! I had told him this endlessly. Somehow, Jack didn’t get it. I mean, I felt sorry for the guy. Sure. Being stuck between this life and the next. But just because I found him, does that mean I needed to keep him?

I think not!

Sadly, when Jack got that look in his eyes, that weary, almost teary (if his tear-ducts worked) look, I melted. I just couldn’t send him away. Not even Jack knew where he would go after he died.

Would he, like, die? As in — dead, nada, kaput, finito, gone, no more? Bye bye, sayonara, ciao, hasta la vista baby and all that? I couldn’t have that on my conscience. No way. I lay on my bed, wondering what to do about him. “Jaaaaaaack,” I hollered.

“Jaaaaaaack!”

Still no answer.

“Jack!”

Jack…materialized.

His eyes rolled down to the ground. He was making those puppy eyes again.

“Jack, I told you not to do that. I told you not to play on my sympathies.”

His puppy eyes became worse. His skin was gray and, well, dead.

“Oh, brother,” I said. “I have to do something about you. If mom finds out I have another ‘imaginary friend’ — at my age — well, I’d die of embarrassment. But, like, really die. Not like you.” I wondered about this. Would I die? Was Jack a freak accident, or did all people live on like him? Think of the cemeteries…

The idea excited me somewhat.

“What would you have me do, Miss Kira?”

“Knock off the Miss Kira crap. I told you it’s just Kira.”

“Yes, Miss Kira.”

The dead. There’s just no reasoning.

“Fine, Miss Kira it is then.” Rover barked like a lunatic in the garden. No one else might be able to see Jack, but I was sure my dog could.

“I have to do something about this,” I mumbled.

Amazon Gift Voucher Giveaway

At the back of the book there is a giveaway link. Once the book hits fifty reviews on Amazon, one of those reviewers will win a $20 (US Dollars) Amazon Gift Voucher!

 Meet the Author

R P Channing started writing three years ago, but never published anything even after churning out over a million words of fiction. Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the first book he dared to publish. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the first thing I wrote that my wife actually enjoyed reading.” When not hammering away (most literally) at his keyboard, he can be found buried in a book, reading anything from romance to horror to young adult to non-fiction to comedy.

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If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Edition: Paperback, 562 pages
Publication Details: September 2nd 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

Review

I don’t know what it is about this series. I love it at the time of reading, but then I fall out of love with the idea of it and I struggle to find the motivation to pick up the next book. That’s what happened with Heir of Fire.

I bought a copy not long after its release but it took me this long to pick it up. And even when I finally did, I couldn’t get into it at all! I was pretty close to giving up on the series altogether to be honest…but then I got hooked again. Ugh make up your mind, Woman!

I think I only fell in love with this book about half way through, but then I didn’t want to put it down.

In this, the third instalment of the Throne of Glass series, Celaena Sardothian, the once all-powerful, all-confident assassin is a broken woman. She’s walking the streets in a booze-induced stupor, almost starving, getting into fights and losing most, because her strength has all but gone.

She doesn’t seem to have any direction, and although I found it interesting to see this fall from grace, it was all a bit dull to start with. Until, that is, she meets Rowan.

Rowan, a prince of fae is ordered to train Celaena to control her fae powers so she can once again fight against those who plan on enslaving her and her people. Of course, she’s reluctant at first, tired of fighting for other people, but it’s not long until the fire in her is ignited, and with the help of brutal Rowan, Celaena slowly becomes herself again.

I’m not gonna lie, for a lot of this book I didn’t really know what was going on. I kind of skimmed the beginning because I couldn’t get into it and then when I got to the good stuff I was confused. But I couldn’t go back, because I couldn’t tear myself away.

I loved how the relationship between Rowan and Celaena developed and as much as I wanted them to get in on – he is clearly mega hawtttt – I’m glad that instead their friendship became solid and trustworthy. I felt like Celaena really needed that instead of another romance. It was refreshing.

There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this book, for example, I had no idea what the witch-clan chapters were all about, and I found myself skipping some of them but they are pretty terrifying characters and make great villains so I’m hoping it’ll be explored better in the next book.

Despite everything, I still ended up loving this book. I can’t really explain it. I think I’m just destined to have a love/hate relationship with this series.

As it stands, I can’t wait until the next book, but by the time it comes around, I’ll probably feel differently. Sigh!

unicorn rating 4

Heir of Fire is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Horror October: Must-See TV!

The main thing I have loved about Horror October is the opportunity to branch out a little. I am, and will remain a BOOK blogger, but like most of you reading this I’m sure, I have other interests too. TV and Film are also great source of enjoyment in my life.

Autumn is always such a great season for new TV shows and this year has been no exception. So I wanted to share with you some my favourite new horrorish shows, and those I am really excited about *squeal*!

1. DRACULA!
Dracula
OMG I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. I have loved Jonathan Rhys Meyers since I saw him in Gormenghast, and then Velvet Goldmine where he played a character based on David Bowie. He was so perfect in both of those so him being cast as Dracula is just a bit amazing. Also Katie McGrath from Merlin plays Lucy Westenra…BONUS!

Synopsis from IMDB: Series introduces Dracula as he arrives in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier. There’s only one circumstance that can potentially thwart his plan: Dracula falls hopelessly in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. Written by NBC

Dracula starts on NBC on Oct 25th in the states and shortly after on Sky Living in the UK.

2. American Horror Story: The Coven

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My excitement for this is on par with Dracula although I didn’t enjoy the last series anywhere near as much as I thought I would! I just felt it fizzled out a bit and I lost interest. This, however, looks crazy good!

AHS: Coven started on Oct 9th US, and will begin on FX in the UK on the 29th…just in time for Halloween!

3. The Tunnel

Synopsis from Sky.com:
The Tunnel is a gripping new thriller from the makers of Broadchurch, set against the backdrop of Europe in crisis.

When a prominent French politician is found dead on the border between the UK and France, detectives Karl Roebuck (Games of Thrones’ Stephen Dillane) and Elise Wassermann (Harry Potter’s Clémence Poésy) are sent to investigate on behalf of their respective countries. The case takes a surreal turn when a shocking discovery is made at the crime scene, forcing the French and British police into an uneasy partnership.

As the serial killer uses ever more elaborate and ingenious methods to highlight the moral bankruptcy of modern society, Karl and Elise are drawn deeper into his increasingly personal agenda.

Inspired by Scandinavian drama The Bridge, it’s an original production for Sky Atlantic HD and the result of an entente cordiale with France’s CANAL+

The Tunnel started on Sky Atlantic on Oct 16th

4. The Originals

the-originals-poster

I used to LOVE The Vampire Diaries although I never read the books. The thing is, the last few series of TVD have been rubbish. Sad Face. So, I don’t really know how to feel about this spin-off but I am looking forward to finding out!

Synopsis from IMDB: A spin-off from The Vampire Diaries and set in New Orleans, The Originals centers on the Mikaelson siblings, otherwise known as the world’s original vampires: Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Rebekah (Claire Holt). Now Klaus must take down his protégé, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), who is now in charge of New Orleans, in order to re-take his city, as he originally built New Orleans. Klaus departed from the city after being chased down by his father Mikael, while it was being constructed and Marcel took charge. As Klaus has returned after many years, his ego has provoked him to become the king of the city. “Every King needs an heir” says Klaus, accepting the unborn child. The child is a first to be born to a hybrid (part vampire, part werewolf) and a werewolf (Hayley). Written by Anaya Miller

The Originals started on Oct 3rd in the US and begins in the UK 22nd Oct on SYFY

5. Bates Motel

This has been a surprise for me. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I’ve loved it so far. Vera Farmiga is amazing as Norma Bates and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

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Synopsis from IMBD: A modern re-imagining and prequel to the movie Psycho. This story begins with the earlier years of a teenage Norman Bates and his mother Norma who live in an old house overlooking the adjoining motel which they are renovating. The house and hotel both come with secrets of their own as does the new town which the Bates’ now call home. Written by Alton Tyre

Bates Motel is currently on Universal in the UK, Thursday Nights. Sleepy Hollow is also worth a mention, so far I’ve seen 2 episodes and it’s been good, I hope they crank it up a notch though!