Book Review – ‘Defending The Galaxy’ by Maria V. Snyder

TITLE: Defending The Galaxy
AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder
GENRE: YA, Sci-Fi
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 544 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on December 2nd, 2020
RRP$19.99 AUD (paperback)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Year 2522. Oh. My. Stars.

Junior Officer Ara Lawrence here, reporting for duty. Again. It’s situation critical for the security team and everyone in the base – including my parents – with a new attack from the looters imminent, a possible galaxy-wide crime conspiracy and an unstoppable alien threat. But this all pales in the face of my mind-blowing discovery about the Q-net. Of course, no one believes me. I’m not sure I believe me. It could just be a stress-induced delusion. That’s what my parents seem to believe…

Their concern for me is hampering my ability to do my job. I know they love me, but with the Q-net in my corner, I’m the only one who can help the security team beat the shadowy aliens from the pits we discovered. We’re holding them at bay, for now, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy is in danger of being overrun.

With battles on too many fronts, it’s looking dire. But one thing I’ve learned is when people I love are in jeopardy, I’ll never give up trying to save them. Not until my dying breath. Which could very well be today…

First things first, this book has the most stunning cover I’ve ever seen. ❤ I adore the color scheme and composition, so all the awards to whoever designed it! 

As the final entry in the Sentinels of the Galaxy trilogy, this book neatly ties up loose plot threads even as it delves deeper into the mind-blowing revelation from the previous book to create new obstacles and threats. But fear not, everything is tidily wrapped up by the ending which is uplifting and satisfying for fans of this series. If you loved the previous two books, you should find this one to be immensely enjoyable as well. 

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ARC Review – ‘Blood & Honey’ by Shelby Mahurin

TITLE: Blood & Honey
AUTHOR: Shelby Mahurin
GENRE: YA Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 432 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on September 1st, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

The hotly anticipated sequel to the New York Times and IndieBound bestseller Serpent & Dove—packed with even steamier romance and darker magic—is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

In case you missed the news, 𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘵 & 𝘋𝘰𝘷𝘦 was originally a duology and has been extended to a trilogy, so note that there is still another book to come after 𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥 & 𝘏𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘺 and the story isn’t fully resolved in this instalment!

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Release Day Review – ‘Loveless’ by Alice Oseman

TITLE: Loveless
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
GENRE: YA Contemporary, LGBT+
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 448 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Harper Collins Australia on August 5th, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

This wise, warm and witty story of identity and self-acceptance sees Alice Oseman on towering form as Georgia and her friends discover that true love isn’t limited to romance.

There aren’t enough books with asexual protagonists, so my expectations were high, but thankfully Loveless lived up to them! ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ As a fellow ace, I related to a lot of Georgia’s feelings, I really could’ve used this book when I was in high school and thought there was something wrong with me for not being like my peers. My hope is that Loveless can help raise awareness for this largely invisible orientation so that asexual teens find some clarity through representation that matches their identity.

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Book Review – ‘If I Never Met You’ by Mhairi McFarlane

Title: If I Never Met You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on January 6th, 2020
RRP: $24.99 AUD (paperback)

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Internationally bestselling author Mhairi McFarlane returns with another heartful romantic comedy perfect for fans of Josie Silver, Sophie Kinsella, or Sally Thorne.

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

It’s been ages since I’ve read a good romance and this book was absolutely delightful! I’m a sucker for the fake dating trope, and it was elevated to a whole new level here with irresistibly charming characters, wonderful friendships between both the main couple as well as the heroine and other ladies, plus a fantastic balance between heartfelt emotion and fun witty banter. I found myself close to tears at a few points and then grinning widely the next moment, the writing got me so invested in these people’s lives and loves!

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Book Tour – ‘The Long Distance Playlist’ by Tara Eglington

Title: The Long Distance Playlist
Author: Tara Eglington
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 432 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on December 16th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Told primarily in instant messenger conversations, Skype, emails and texts, this is Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry for Celia for the modern teen.

Taylor and Isolde used to be best friends – before THAT FIGHT, 18 months ago. It’s been radio silence ever since – until Taylor contacts Isolde to sympathise with her breakup: the breakup that she never saw coming; the breakup that destroyed her confidence and ended her dreams of joining the National Ballet School.

Taylor’s had his own share of challenges, including a life-altering accident that has brought his hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics to a halt.

Isolde responds to Taylor, to be polite. But what starts out as heartbreak-themed Spotify playlists and shared stories of exes quickly becomes something more.

And as Taylor and Isolde start to lean on each other, the distance between them begins to feel not so distant after all …

A boy. A girl. A one-of-a-kind friendship. Cross-country convos and middle-of-the-night playlists. With big dreams come even bigger challenges.

I decided to try something out of my comfort zone by picking this up as friends-to-lovers isn’t a trope I normally read, but I’m so glad I did because this blew me away! If you aren’t a fan of the trope, this book will make you a convert; if you already enjoy it, then prepare to swoon! The main characters are lovable and so endearing, the issues they face feel very relatable and the playlists ROCKED – so many of my fave songs were featured!

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ARC Review – ‘The Lost Ones’ by Anita Frank

Title: The Lost Ones
Author: Anita Frank
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Word/Page Count: 464 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Publishers on October 21st, 2019
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)

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Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

The Lost Ones takes the typical haunted house trope and elevates it to the next level with an atmospheric historical setting, smart lyrical writing, refreshingly unexpected plot developments and compelling characters that the reader will invest in.

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ARC Review – ‘Daughter of Lies & Ruin’ by Jo Spurrier

Title: Daughter of Lies & Ruin
Author: Jo Spurrier
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 352 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on September 24th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Why do the worst people sometimes make the best family? From the author of Winter Be My Shield and A Curse of Ash & Embers comes the next absorbing Blackbone Witches novel.

‘If they didn’t want to get turned into beasts and used to fuel a ritual, they shouldn’t have attacked a witch. That’s all there is to it.’

There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.

Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.

Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself …

This is book 2 in the ‘Tale of the Blackbone Witches‘ series (my review for book 1 is here) and my excitement could not be contained when I got my hands on an early copy of ‘Daughter of Lies & Ruin‘. We find out what comes next for our protagonist, Dee, who is an apprentice to the sardonic, morally grey badass witch Aleida and learning how to wield her own nascent magical abilities.

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Book Review – ‘Serpent & Dove’ by Shelby Mahurin

Title: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 528 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on September 2nd, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

This was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year and I’m so glad to report that it blew my socks off as hoped! Serpent & Dove combines two of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and forced-marriage, which meant my expectations were sky high, but kudos to Shelby Mahurin, she became an instant fave author with this spectacular debut novel. ❤

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ARC Review – ‘Crown of Coral and Pearl’ by Mara Rutherford

Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on August 5th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

This is a captivating and fast-paced fantasy read that pulled me in from the first line and didn’t let me put the book down til I turned the last page. I thoroughly recommend it as a fun way to spend a weekend. 🙂 I’m all the more impressed at how effortlessly engrossing this was considering it’s the author’s debut novel!

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ARC Review – ‘The Last Balfour’ by Cait Duggan

Title: The Last Balfour
Author:  Cait Duggan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy/Paranormal
Word/Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on July 22nd, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

MAGIC AND FIRE ARE KINDRED THINGS . . . DISCOVER AN EXCITING NEW VOICE IN AUSTRALIAN FICTION Iona Balfour’s life is turned upside down when her beloved aunt Grizel is executed for the crime of witchcraft. Before she dies, Grizel appoints Iona as guardian of a precious family bloodstone and tells her she must flee their village and deliver the stone to the mysterious Guild of the Green Lion.

Accompanied by a new friend, Cal, Iona soon realises that she’s awakened the powers of the bloodstone. But it promises to be a perilous journey. The wolf month is no time to be on the road. And there’s a witch hunter on Iona’s trail, who has a strange obsession with the stone.

When a devastating betrayal throws her into the hands of her enemies, Iona soon finds herself in the fight of her life. Will she suffer the same fate as her aunt, or will she escape the witch hunter and fulfil her destiny?

‘The Last Balfour’ begins on February 1st 1597, right before the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 was due to take place in real life, which according to historical records was between March to October of that year. Not much is known about this witch hunt as it wasn’t centrally supervised under royal commission and many records by local authorities went missing, so it’s interesting to think that the events of this novel could potentially fit into Scotland’s history and have played a role in motivating the witch hunt to come.

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