Shelflove Crate – July 2018: ‘Let The Games Begin’

Shelflove Crate is a YA book subscription box that is “specially assembled with a newly released Fantasy or Sci-Fi YA book and 3 or more theme-based items”.

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Shelflove Crate
Cost: $29.99 USD
Shipping Costs: $7.99 for US, $14.99 for Canada and $22.99 worldwide
Payment Method: Credit Card
Mailed Out: from the 20th onward each month

This box was ridiculously late – it was delayed about two weeks as a manufacturer didn’t have an item ready in time, so all the boxes were held up. This July box only just arrived on August 15th!

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Owlcrate – July 2018: ‘Strange & Unusual’

OwlCrate is a monthly book subscription service that provides you with a newly released Young Adult novel plus other bookish extras, such as jewelry & accessories, bookmarks, stickers & prints, toys, etc.

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(I adopted a cat last month, that’s Charlie sticking her head in at the top, lol)

OwlCrate
Cost: $29.99 USD monthly, $86.98 for 3 months or $167.94 for 6 months.
Shipping Costs: $6.99 to US, $10.59 to Canada and $19.99 internationally.
Payment Method: Debit and Credit Cards.
Mailed Out: around the 20th of each month.

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ARC Review – ‘Seventh Born’ by Monica Sanz

Title: Seventh Born
Author: Monica Sanz
Genre: Ya, Fantasy
Date of Publication: 4th September, 2018
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.

This is one of those guilty pleasure reads – there were a few glaring flaws that detracted from the quality of the story, and yet I was having such a good time reading this that I wilfully overlooked them!

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The writing flowed smoothly, the main characters were engaging, and the plot took a few twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I was legitimately shocked by some of the developments, which is novel for me in YA where I’ve come to find a lot of storylines predictable. I like that the author took some chances and made a few creative choices!

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ARC Review – ‘The Cursebreaker Countess’ by Sasha L Miller

Title: The Cursebreaker Countess
Author: Sasha L Miller
Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: 15th August, 2018
Word/Page Count: 42,000 words/106 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Kas is a wanderer, exploring the country and keeping out of the reach of her stepfather’s plots to marry her off and steal her fortune. When she stumbles across a field of towers one stormy night, she promptly takes shelter in the sturdiest-looking of the bunch, only to find a woman trapped in a bespelled sleep.

Breaking the curse takes seconds, but dealing with the aftermath may force Kas to return to the home she’s been avoiding—and right into the sights of the mage who cursed the princess sleeping in the tower…

This is a sweet fairytale featuring a well-written f/f romance, which I am the target audience for, so it was a no-brainer that I loved this! ❤

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I went in thinking that it was a genderbent retelling of Sleeping Beauty but aside from Princess Anika being placed under a sleeping curse, there isn’t any other connection as the author has created an entirely fresh new plot. Kas wakes up Anika not with a kiss of true love, but her ability to break curses (roll credits!) which frees Anika from her slumber after sixty-six years. Normally that would be the end point or at least the climax of the story, but their adventure is only just beginning as they discover that Anika’s tower was merely one in a cluster of many towers which imprisoned other women with magical abilities, with no clue as to who was responsible or why.

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ARC Review – ‘Rogue Protocol’ by Martha Wells

Title: Rogue Protocol
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Sci-fi
Date of Publication: 7th August, 2018
Page Count: 160 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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SciFi’s favorite crabby A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

I absolutely adored the first two installments in The Murderbot Diaries, and this third novella lived up to my high expectations, what a fantastic read! ❤

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ARC Review – ‘The Dark Beneath the Ice’ by Amelinda Bérubé

Title: The Dark Beneath the Ice
Author: Amelinda Bérubé
Genre: YA Horror/Fantasy
Expected Date of Publication: 7th August, 2018
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have split up, or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close.

Something is after her. But a first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

I really enjoyed this one! I’m much on a YA horror kick and this satisfied that craving quite well with a relatable lead in harrowing circumstances, interesting family dynamics and a cute f/f ship!

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Owlcrate: June 2018 – ‘Summer Lovin’’

OwlCrate is a monthly book subscription service that provides you with a newly released Young Adult novel plus other bookish extras, such as jewelry & accessories, bookmarks, stickers & prints, toys, etc.

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OwlCrate
Cost: $29.99 USD monthly, $86.98 for 3 months or $167.94 for 6 months.
Shipping Costs: $6.99 to US, $10.59 to Canada and $19.99 internationally.
Payment Method: Debit and Credit Cards.
Mailed Out: around the 20th of each month.

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ARC Review – ‘Jinxed’ by Amy McCulloch

Title: Jinxed
Author: Amy McCulloch
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Fantasy
Expected Date of Publication: 9th August, 2018
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the  “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

This is the very first book I’ve been unable to choose between 3 or 4 stars and HAD to go with a half-rating to split the difference!

I want to give it 4 stars because ‘Jinxed’ is the definition of ADDICTIVE. I stayed up past midnight finishing this in one hit because I was hooked on the story and couldn’t put it down. I knew I’d regret it in the morning when I had to get up for work, but still I continued to the very last page!

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Book Review – ‘Lord of Secrets’ by Erica Ridley

Title: Lord of Secrets
Author: Erica Ridley
Genre:  Historical Romance
Date of Publication: 15th June, 2018
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Heath Grenville is the problem-solver for London’s elite. Unmask the devious cretin skewering the ton with audacious caricatures? With pleasure. His success should keep the powerful happy. But when his work leads him to a young lady outside his class, surely he won’t do anything so scandalous as to fall in love

By day, Miss Eleanora Winfield is a proper, unremarkable paid companion. By night, Nora’s skillful hands sketch the infamous penny caricatures rocking high society. Nora desperately needs the money…and her anonymity. But how can she keep them both, when she’s fallen for the one man whose livelihood and reputation requires him to expose her?

The reviews on Goodreads are very positive, so this is a case of ‘it’s not the book, it’s me’. Although I liked Nora and Heath, I didn’t engage emotionally with their developing romance and the supporting cast of characters were fine, but nothing to write home about.

I will note that this story has a couple that take the time to get to know each other personally instead of falling in insta-lust, which is something I really have to commend the author for because I always want more of that! The couple’s devotion to their respective family members was lovely and I enjoyed Heath’s interactions with his sisters and Nora’s with Lady Roundtree, but it’s not a great sign that I felt more interest in the family dynamics than I did in their romance.  There wasn’t much chemistry between them at the start, and while I liked them as friends, I didn’t feel it was believable that they felt this consuming passion for each other that would explain why they HAD to torment themselves with visions of the future they supposedly couldn’t have.

The main problem was that the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of their wildly varying social classes with Nora being a commoner and Heath being a titled lord expected to marry well kept being repeated ad nauseum. I started bookmarking every time the whole ‘I want him/her, but we’re not meant to beee‘ refrain came up, but then stopped because it was in EVERY. SINGLE. CHAPTER. We get it! This isn’t difficult to grasp! There was a marked lack of angst or dramatic tension, so it was as though the author had to keep falling back on this one obstacle to keep the story going and it had me gritting my teeth just wishing the characters would forget each other and move on already.

If you’re in the mood for a low-stakes fluffy romance, this will suit you well. Again, I seem to be the lone critical voice as the majority of reviews are filled with glowing praise, so this is a book that seems to work for most readers. Alas, it just wasn’t for me!

Personal Rating: 3 out of 5 kitties approve this book.

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Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed a digital copy free from WebMotion via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.