Book Review – ‘All The Ways To Here’ by Emily O’Beirne

Title:  All The Ways To Here
Author: Emily O’Beirne
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 1st November, 2017
Word Count: 83,280
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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In this sequel to Future Leaders of Nowhere, Finn and Willa come home from camp to find everything is different. Even as they grow more sure of their feelings for each other, everything around them feels less certain.

When Finn gets involved in a new community project, she’s forced to question where her priorities lie at school. Meanwhile, her dad has moved interstate, her mother is miserable, and her home feels like a ghost town.

Willa’s discovering how to negotiate the new terrains of romance and school friendships when an accident at home reminds her just how tenuous her family situation is. Suddenly, even with her dad in town, she’s shouldering more responsibility than ever.

As they try to navigate these new worlds together, Finn’s learning she has to figure out what she wants, and Willa how to ask for what she needs.

I previously reviewed  Future Leaders of Nowhere (here) and fell in love with Finn & Willa and co, so imagine my excitement when the author contacted me to offer a digital copy of its sequel for review. 😀 My only concern was whether or not All The Ways To Here would live up to my high expectations, and I’m so relieved and thrilled to report that it did indeed! ❤

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ARC Review – ‘My Lady Governess’ by Elise Clarke

Title:  My Lady Governess
Author: Elise Clarke
Genre:  Romance (Historical/Regency)
Date of Publication: 20th December, 2017
Page Count: 200 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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One knight, one runaway heiress, one rollicking romance: A breath of fresh air in Regency romance!

Proud and haughty, Lord de Waare is almost as medieval as his castle…until he accidentally abducts a governess, who turns out not to be a governess at all, and who shows this knight that his heart is not as armoured as he thought.

A girl with a dangerous past, Marina would happily disappear again, but since de Waare won’t let that happen, then the least he can do is help her clear her name. But moving back into society is dangerous for her and for the stern man she’s coming to love. She knows the rules of honour and society, and she won’t allow de Waare to compromise the principles that define him.

But de Waare didn’t become the Crusader by accepting defeat. Faint heart never won a fair lady, and de Waares always win.

To be fairly blunt, I had a strong dislike for this book until at least 25% in – I was very close to DNF’ing it and moving on, but I’m always reluctant to do that with ARCs and try to make it at least 50% through before giving up. And lo and behold, I actually started enjoying myself finally and ended up finishing this in one sitting.

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Review – ‘Abounding Might’ by Melissa McShane

Title:  Abounding Might
Author: Melissa McShane
Genre:  Fantasy, Romance, Alternate History
Date of Publication: 3rd October, 2017
Page Count: 363 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Calcutta, 1813. Lady Daphne St. Clair, who as an Extraordinary Bounder is capable of transporting herself anywhere in the world with a thought, has longed to serve in the Army for years. But an unexpected weakness at the sight of blood makes her responsible for a good man’s death in battle. Unable to serve on the battlefield, Daphne is sent to India to be transportation for the Governor-General’s wife and children. In disgrace, Daphne fears she will never achieve the fame and glory she has worked so hard for.

A chance encounter with Captain Phineas Fletcher, attached to the Honourable East India Company as a troubleshooter and investigator, leads to Daphne being given a new opportunity: help Captain Fletcher discover the truth behind a series of strange occurrences in the town of Madhyapatnam. Daphne is willing to do anything to restore her reputation, even something as small as Captain Fletcher’s investigation. As the days progress, her attachment to the members of the team grows deeper, as does her growing attraction to the captain.

But as Daphne and Captain Fletcher dig deeper into the mystery, the truth turns out to be much more sinister than anyone imagined. Dark currents run deep beneath the pleasant surface of Madhyapatnam, and the echoes of a twenty-year- old story threaten not only the Company’s rule over the town, but the safety and well-being of everyone in it. Soon only Daphne’s talent and courage stand between Madhyapatnam and the evil that threatens to overwhelm it.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series (‘Burning Bright‘ reviewed here) and skipped the second as the plot didn’t appeal to my personal tastes, but I was intrigued by ‘Abounding Might‘. While it didn’t match the high standards of book 1, which was practically perfect in my eyes, it was still an immensely enjoyable read with a riveting plot and endearing characters.
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‘Masked’ by J D Wright

Title:  Masked
Author: J D Wright
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy/Science Fiction
Date of Publication: 15th August, 2017
Page Count: 220 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Vada’s To-Do List:

– Turn 18 (check!)
– Register super name
– Order supersuit
– Attend superhero indoctrination
– Graduate high school
– Start kicking criminal tail

Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.

Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?

Somehow, with the help—and hindrance—of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.

No one ever said that being a superhero was easy… 

After tremendously enjoying Dreadnought about a teenage girl with newly discovered superpowers trying to make a difference, I thought I would equally enjoy Masked, about a couple of teens with powers using them for good. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I try to find the good in anything I read, but this book was a long hard slog with very little to reward my perseverance.

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ARC Review – ’27 Hours’ by Tristina Wright

Title:  27 Hours
Author: Tristina Wright
Genre:  Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 3rd October, 2017
Page Count: 404 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

I was super excited to be approved for this ARC as 27 Hours has been on my TBR for a long while now – for the most part, it lived up to my expectations! ❤

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Review – ‘The Dark Net’ by Benjamin Percy

Title:  The Dark Net
Author: Benjamin Percy
Genre:  Horror, Thriller
Date of Publication: 1st August, 2017
Page Count: 272 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Hell on earth is only one click of a mouse away…

The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:

Twelve-year-old Hannah — who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness– wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.

Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.

Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.

And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.

They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.

Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.

First things first, disregard that summary – it’s so misleading. The titular ‘Dark Net’ plays an important role but not until the last quarter, and Derek is basically a nonentity, he hardly figures in the story at all! I also had the impression that the other named characters would be actively fighting together from early in the story, given the description of this ‘ragtag crew’ uniting to fight against evil, but their storylines remain separate for quite some time.

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Review – ‘Future Leaders of Nowhere’ by Emily O’Beirne

Title:  Future Leaders of Nowhere
Author: Emily O’Beirne
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 15th March, 2017
Page Count: 270 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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“Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”

“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”

Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.

Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.

In short: I loved this book. The main characters were endearing and easy to root for, the love story was gradually developed and their relationship had a solid foundation based on adorably nerdy interactions (no insta-love here!) and their conflicts felt grounded in their individual personalities and beliefs instead of contrived for drama. ALL THE YES.

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At length: This is everything I want in a YA novel!

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ARC Review – ‘Daughter of the Burning City’ by Amanda Foody

Title:  Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 25th July, 2017
Page Count: 384 pages (hardback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I wanted to love this more than I did. I have a lot of respect for the author’s vision and her ambition, but I feel that the execution was a little lacking. This is only her debut novel and it’s such an exciting and promising start, but there are definitely areas that needed more work.

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Let’s start with the positives: this is a stunningly original premise unlike anything I’ve come across before – most fantasy novels will display at least a couple common tropes, but this was a most unique and unusual standout in my reading experience. I didn’t even read the reviews before I requested an ARC because it was so refreshingly different.

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ARC review – ‘Sovereign’ by April Daniels

Title:  Sovereign
Author: April Daniels
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 25th July, 2017
Page Count: 350pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse.

When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her.

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge.

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

I loved the first book so much that I gave it a 5-star rating and was absolutely thrilled to be approved for an ARC of the second book – so how did I fare?

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I thought after weathering all the ups and downs of Dreadnought, I was prepared for the sequel, but I was SO wrong. This book hurt me on a deep spiritual level because of how much pain and suffering the protagonist went through, and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I was up til 3am finishing this off because I needed to know how it ended and if it would all be okay for Danny at any stage EVER.

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Review – ‘Break Me’ by Tiffany Snow

Title: Break Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Genre:  Contemporary, Romance
Date of Publication: 14th March, 2017
Page Count: 316 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Just a few weeks ago, computer prodigy China Mack’s typical night in involved Endor Star Wars pajamas and a sensible bedtime. Now she’s dating gorgeous tech guru Jackson Cooper—one of Forbes’s Top Ten Eligible Billionaires—much to the Twitterverse’s delight.

Turns out, going from socially inept hermit to poster girl for geek chic has its challenges. China’s relationship gets even more complicated because her role heading the top-secret Vigilance program—where she’s partnered with Superman clone Clark Slattery—makes her a target. And when ruthless businessman Simon Lu plans to co-opt Vigilance software to blackmail government and military employees, he’ll need China’s cooperation—willing or otherwise.

But not every enemy is so easily identified. Some hide in plain sight, in very high places, and mistaking foe for friend could be the last mistake China ever makes…

I adored the first book in the ‘Corrupted Hearts’ series – I gave Follow Me a 5-star rating! This sequel fell rather short of the lofty standards set by its predecessor and I felt a bit disappointed after having anticipated this so much. The writing is smooth and assured, the mystery plot is snappy and intriguging, and it honestly had me glued to the screen, gasping in shock at some of the twists and turns. But while ‘Follow Me‘ didn’t have an obnoxious love triangle, its sequel unfortunately doubled down on that aspect.

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