Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: League of Strays - L.B. Schulman

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman, published by Amulet on 1st October 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

This is L.B. Schulman's debut novel about a group of teens who have all been the subject of bullying in one way or another.  This group of misfits and outcasts have been brought together by the charismatic and enigmatic Kade who wants to help them get revenge on the people who bullied them.

I have to admit that I'm not really a big fan of stories like this.  Yes, most people probably have thought about getting their own back on their bullies but the teens in 'League of Strays' definitely take it a step too far in their desire for vengeance.  Their actions are extreme and left me feeling quite uncomfortable at some points in the book.  But then maybe that was the point; to leave the reader unsettled and apprehensive about what was going to come next.

There are some interesting characters in the book, including Charlotte who narrates the story.  She's always done everything she possibly can to please her parents and works and studies hard.  In the past she has been bullied and picked on by a former friend turned enemy and it's the sense of isolation she experiences that leaves her an easy target for Kade's league of strays.  She is the moral heart and soul of the story, even though she too makes some wrong turns along the way.

I thought the story was alright but I personally felt that the ending was unsatisfactory. I don't want to say too much about it in case I give something away but I was definitely hoping for a different outcome and when it didn't happen I felt shortchanged.  Overall, this book wasn't for me because there were just one too many moments in it where I didn't agree with the actions of the characters or the outcome of the plot.  

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Blog tour: Zombies Don't Cry - Rusty Fischer

Today on the blog I have a very special post by Rusty Fischer, author of 'Zombies Don't Cry'.  If you haven't read this book yet then here's a bit more about it.

Maddy Swift is just an ordinary girl, until the fateful night when she is struck by lightning and wakes up face down in a puddle. Then it's goodbye to all things Normal – such as breathing and having a heartbeat – and hello to yellow vision and a whole new Afterlife.

Turns out there’s a lot more to being a zombie than shuffling and groaning, but surviving school as one of the living dead requires a totally different set of skills. And things don’t get any easier when Maddy realises that she’s not the reanimated student at Barracuda Bay High . . .

Rusty has written a suitably spooky poem to celebrate Halloween!

3-Zombies Night Before Halloween Post by Rusty Fischer

Friday, 26 October 2012

Review: Zombies Don't Cry - Rusty Fischer

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer, published by Electric Monkey on 1st October 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Maddy Swift is just an ordinary girl, until the fateful night when she is struck by lightning and wakes up face down in a puddle. Then it's goodbye to all things Normal – such as breathing and having a heartbeat – and hello to yellow vision and a whole new Afterlife.

Turns out there’s a lot more to being a zombie than shuffling and groaning, but surviving school as one of the living dead requires a totally different set of skills. And things don’t get any easier when Maddy realises that she’s not the reanimated student at Barracuda Bay High.

When this book arrived I was more than a little bit intrigued. Vampires I love, werewolves too but zombies I wasn’t really sure about. I’ll confess that I haven’t read many zombie books before so I had no idea what lay in store for me with this story. I’ve always thought that zombies lack a certain amount of fire and passion. Yes, I know they are technically dead but then so are vampires and we all know that they can on occasion fairly sizzle with emotion. Maddy however, the main character of the book, isn’t your typical zombie, she’s a teenager who is trying to work out who she is and what the heck’s going on around her. Her life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book had a fantastic prologue which grabbed my attention immediately and piqued my interest for what was going to come next.  I was expecting a fair amount of horror but there was actually quite a lot of humour throughout and a fairly light tone to the story.  I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I was expecting to but there were elements of the story that I enjoyed.      

I liked the high school setting where it’s possible that the person sitting next to you may not be who you think they are.  This meant that I never quite knew which characters could be trusted and who was going to be next to turn. 

Funny and humorous, Rusty Fischer has added his own spin to the genre. His zombies eat brains, don’t have heartbeats and are cold to the touch but they also have feelings and emotions like normal living, breathing humans.  Maddy for example, has big issues to deal with, such as being dead but still faces everyday problems with boys and friends.

Overall this was still a fairly good read and although zombies may not have replaced my love of vampires, I’m warming up to them and they may yet win a place in my heart!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Review: Seeking Crystal - Joss Stirling

Seeking Crystal by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 4th October 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Crystal Brook has always been the dud Savant in her family; paranormal powers just aren't her thing. Dropping out of school with a clutch of 'E' grades and no future, she lives in the shadow of her high-flying sister Diamond. On a trip to Denver, a chance encounter with the dashing Benedict brothers leaves Diamond head over heels in love and engaged to be married. Crystal, on the other hand, is unimpressed by their charms . . . in fact no boy can annoy her as much as Xav Benedict! Back in Venice, their families assemble for Diamond's wedding and a powerful enemy seizes the opportunity to attack. Crystal and Xav must join forces to save their loved-ones, unlocking a secret that, until now, has lain deeply buried...

The Benedict brothers are back in this new instalment of the series by author Joss Stirling.  I adore these books!  I can't express how much I love them and how ridiculously happy they make me feel when I'm reading them.  The romantic in me loves the idea of having a Soul Finder, someone who makes you complete and will be devoted and dedicated to you for the rest of your life.  Having seen the two youngest brothers Zed and Yves find their other halves, it's now the turn of the joker and healer of the family, Xav.

'Seeking Crystal' is unique because not one but two of the Benedict brothers are matched up.  The story begins with Crystal's older sister Diamond meeting her Soul Finder, Trace.  Cue immediate wedding plans between the two.  This of course brings Crystal together with Xav, although the two don't exactly get on at first.  There's plenty of friction between them from the start, which later turns into lots of lovely kissing! 

One of the things I really like about this series are the wonderful settings that Joss Stirling chooses.  So far we've had America and London and now it's the turn of the beautiful Venice, which makes a gorgeously romantic backdrop for the story.  There are some fantastic descriptions of the city and I could easily imagine floating down the river in a gondolia with a handsome boy by my side!

In this book, we find out more about the bond between Soul Finders and what it can do to someone when they have loved and then lost their other half.  This is explored with sensitivity and compassion and really touched me.  The bond they have is so special and unique that it can almost destroy them when it is broken. 

Although probably not my favourite of the series (that honour goes to 'Stealing Phoenix'), I still thought this book was captivating and altogether fabulous.  I want to know now if the other Benedict brothers will find their Soul Finders.  I think there could definitely be more in store judging by the tantalising glimpse at the end of the book.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

News: New signing from Strange Chemistry

Strange Chemistry have just announced a brand new signing!  Eliza Crewe has signed a two book deal with the publisher.  Her first title 'Cracked' is set for a November 2013 release and sounds awesome.  Here's a description of her new book -

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her “kind” is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and avoiding a bad-ass cripple that doesn’t trust her are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

Eliza’s website:
Eliza’s Twitter: @ElizaCrewe

Monday, 22 October 2012

Review: Breathe - Sarah Crossan

Breathe by Sarah Crossan, published by Bloomsbury on 11th October 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from?

In 'Breathe' Sarah Crossan has taken the seed of a truly original idea and allowed it to flourish and grow into this spectacular novel.  I always wonder where authors get the ideas for their books and this one in particular is truly unique.  Imagine a world where oxygen is a valued and precious commodity, now in short supply.  Where you can't run around, kiss the boy you love or simply lead a normal life because you may not have enough oxygen to breathe to do so.  This is the terrifying concept which Sarah Crossan weaves into her new book.

I first came across Sarah's writing last year when I read her first book, the brilliant 'The Weight of Water' which was entirely in prose.  It was an impressive debut and I've been looking forward to having the opportunity to read more of her work ever since.  'Breathe' is quite a change of direction for her and her first young-adult novel but it absolutely lived up to all my expectations.

Three distinct characters share the narrative: Bea, Quinn and Alina.  Thrown together on a journey outside of the 'protective pod' in which they live, they set out to discover the real truth about the world they've all come to fear.  Each character had a very unique voice which helped with the alternating chapters.  My personal favourite was Bea who is an Auxiliary.  In love with her best friend Quinn, she longs for a better life for herself and her family.  She's kind hearted and intelligent and was an appealing figure in the book with a genuine heart of gold.  There's a kind of love triangle between the three teenagers, which initially I was a little wary of but I liked the outcome of this which didn't necessarily follow the traditional pattern.

This is a truly captivating and engrossing book which is the first in a new trilogy.  If you enjoyed the Matched series by Ally Condie then you'll love 'Breathe'.  I was swept away by the story and the fast paced plot and can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.  

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: Operation Bunny - Sally Gardner

Operation Bunny (Wings #1) by Sally Gardner, published by Orion Children's Books on 4th October 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Emily Vole makes headline news in the first weeks of her life, when she is found in an abandoned hatbox in Stanstead Airport. Then, only a few years later, her neighbour Mrs String dies leaving Emily a mysterious inheritance: an old shop, a small bunch of golden keys and a cat called Fidget. In the shop Emily discovers drawers full of fairy wings and the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime as the old Fairy Detective Agency comes back to life. It is up to Emily to reopen the shop, and recall the fairies to duty. Together they must embark on their first mystery to find Emily Vole's real parents and do battle with their great fairy-snatching enemy, Harpula.

This is the first book in Sally Gardner's new series and the first case of the Fairy Detective Agency.  It's a beautifully packaged book with fabulous illustrations by David Roberts which really bring the story to life.

Combining some magical elements reminiscent of well loved fairy tales with a dark centre which will appeal hugely to readers who like it when children save the day and their wicked parents get their comeuppance, 'Operation Bunny' has been described as reminiscent of some of Roald Dahl's best loved stories.  While I think this book is actually quite different, I can understand how comparisons could be made between the two.

Sally Gardner's tale features heroine Emily Vole.  Emily has an incredible adventure when she becomes acquainted with her next door neighbour Miss String and her human-like cat Fidget.  A whole new magical world opens up for her and her life is literally turned upside down.  From then on, readers should expect just about anything to happen.  There are pink, talking bunny rabbits, fairies, witches, zombie children and magic lamps.  Suspend your disbelief because this story will carry you away from reality and into a world of enchantment and adventure. 

I found this book a quirky and entertaining read.  Emily Vole is an adorable and likable heroine and this is a story spiced with secrets and magic which will appeal hugely to younger readers.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Review: Vanish - Sophie Jordan

Vanish by Sophie Jordan, published by Oxford University Press in September 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Jacinda did the unthinkable for love: she betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Exposed for what she really is-a descendant of dragons with the ability to shift into human form-she must return to her pride knowing she might never see Will again. Back home, Jacinda is shunned and her sister, Tamra, is the only one she can turn to. But Tamra is experiencing shocking changes of her own ...Jacinda knows she should forget Will, yet she clings to the hope that they'll be together again. So when the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything?

*Beware that there may be spoilers from the previous book in the series

I feel like I've been waiting for this book for forever!  I loved 'Firelight', the first instalment in Sophie Jordan's Draki series and I have been itching to read the sequel ever since.  I was very excited when the publication date finally rolled around and I could get my hands on a copy and my nose stuck into the pages of the book. 

It was great being able to catch up with the incredible characters and the amazing world that Jordan has created.  After having seen Jacinda leave the Draki community, 'Vanish' approaches the story from a slightly different angle, showing how she copes with returning to her old home and how she's welcomed back into the community.  She's still torn between her life with the Pride and her ties to her mother and twin sister, as well as knowing that her heart belongs to Will.  Not everyone welcomes her back with open arms and she has to deal with the consequences of many of her actions from earlier in the series.

Jacinda is still my favourite character.  I love all the descriptions of her as a draki and through Jordan's wonderful writing, I could sense her love of flying and the freedom she feels when she's soaring through the air.  There's a definite sense of exhilaration and joy, which is why the threat of having this taken away from her is so terrible.  If she couldn't fly, she'd be half the person she was before.

Cassian also grew on me a lot in 'Vanish'.  I wasn't sure about him previously, but I began to understand him more and the feelings he has for Jacinda.  He cares deeply for her and just like she can't help but love Will, he feels the same about her. 

If I had to level any criticism at the book, it would be that I didn't think the plot moved along quite so much which meant that it felt a little slow in places.  That said, the ending was terrific and I really can't wait for the next one, 'Hidden' which is due out in September 2013.  A year is going to be an awfully long time to wait! 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Review: Theodore Boone: The Accused - John Grisham

Theodore Boone: The Accused by John Grisham, published by Hodder and Stoughton in May 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Theo Boone might only be thirteen, but he's already uncovered key evidence in a groundbreaking murder trial and discovered the truth behind his best friend's abduction. Now with the latest unfolding of events in Strattenburg, Theo will face his biggest challenge yet.

This is the third book in the series about boy lawyer Theodore Boone who can crack any case put before him.  The story takes a change of direction in this instalment, with Theo being accused of a crime he didn't commit with no obvious way of proving his own innocence.  In big trouble with the police, it looks like everything could be over for the boy lawyer.

I love John Grisham's adult novels, so I am so pleased that he's produced a crackingly good story but for a younger audience.  Although the legal side of things is simplified slightly for the type of audience that the book is aimed at, it is in no way dumbed down and the plot is still highly intelligent and gripping.  There's a great mystery at the heart of the story and I for one had no idea how this was going to unravel.

Theo himself is a great character.  He's incredibly smart and intelligent and really does know his stuff.  He often works out problems and solves cases before some of the adult characters do. 

I thought that the trial of Pete Duffy which was key to the previous book in the series was going to be central to 'The Accused' must this was also mentioned briefly at the very beginning.  I would like to see this concluded somewhere further down the line as I'm still wondering what the outcome of this storyline will be.

I love reading about Theo with his faithful dog Judge by his side.  Here's hoping that there are many more books in the series still to come!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Review: Ruby - Amanda Burke

Ruby by Amanda Burke, published by Solstice Publishing on 29th June 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
During the Salem witch hunts, an evil witch named Natasha Sullivan tricks a demon into confining himself inside an enchanted music box. She casts a spell that foretells that the demon will emerge in an unknown time in future after the birth of a child known as the Lumen Child. This child’s destiny is to bring light to the planet and Natasha knows that if he is killed then darkness will prevail. Natasha’s identical twin Sarah, discovers what her sister has done. Although she cannot break the spell she casts her own prophecy. It states that three witches known as the Triple Enchantresses will be born in the same time as the Lumen Child and they will be his supernatural protectors. The girls are not sisters, yet they will share a common destiny.

Ruby is the story of the first witch and how she very nearly dies before discovering her true identity. Having grown up unaware of her powers, she is rescued by her loving grandmother who is also a white witch and taken back to the family estate where she learns everything she can about what her future holds.

'Ruby' is about a young girl who travels to live with her grandmother after the deaths of her mother and father.  Once there she discovers that she comes from a long line of witches and she is destined to follow the magical tradition passed down through her family.

This was a quick and easy read.  At only 170 pages long, I would have liked the book to have been longer as it seemed a lot was crammed into a fairly short story.  This meant that at times there wasn't enough development of the characters or the plot for my tastes.  For instance, Ruby seemed very accepting of her new found heritage and powers.  I would have liked to have seen more of a period of adjustment and change as she came to understand more about herself and her abilities. 

There was also romance in the book between Ruby and Blaine but again, I thought that this developed very quickly, whereas I would have preferred to have seen their romance blossom more slowly and take it's time to turn into love.  I found this one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story so it seems a shame that more of the book wasn't dedicated to the two of them.  This is only the first of a four book series however so  I wonder whether the author will focus more on this later down the line.

The prologue was intriguing but I thought this should have been linked more to the main story.  There's mention of the Lumen child at the beginning but then this isn't really followed through which confused me a little.  The story did get better as the book progressed and I particularly enjoyed the second half which was quite exciting.

There were some great characters including my favourite, Walter the house elf.  He was so sweet!  I also liked Ruby's grandmother and the bond which develops between her and her granddaughter.   

Although not quite as good as I was initially expecting it to be, this was still a promising start to a series which I would like to read more of in the future. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Review: Revived - Cat Patrick

Revived by Cat Patrick, published by Electric Monkey on 2nd July 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
My name is Daisy West and my whole life is a lie. I'm part of a programme to test a drug called Revive - a drug that brings people back from the dead. I have died five times. I've been Revived five times. With each revival comes a new name, a new town...a new life. But this time, I won't let myself die. This time, I've found a love that I can't let go of. This time, I'm going to make my life my own.

'Revived' is everything you could want in a book and more.  I adored this fantastic story which shows that Cat Patrick's writing just keeps getting better and better.  It's hard to describe what it is about her writing that I love so much but there's something so real about it.  I feel like I can completely step inside the story and live it along with the characters.  Her ideas are original, her dialogue is fresh and realistic and she portrays real life issues with sensitivity and a deft touch.

I've been waiting for this book to be published for months so I started it with high expectations which were met in every single way.  It focuses on teenager Daisy who has already died five times but each time has been saved by an experimental drug called Revive.  She's packed up and moved town on countless occasions but when she arrives in Omaha and meets Audrey and her brother Matt, she finds herself putting down roots for the very first time.

I enjoyed all three strands of the story: Daisy's friendship with Audrey who seems to be hiding a secret of her own, her romance with Matt and her involvement with the Revive programme.  Everything about it was interesting and intriguing and I was glued to the page from start to finish. 

Cat Patrick deals with deeper philosophical issues about life and death, as well as bereavement and the process of grieving.  She shows how death can affect people in different ways and how you can learn to go on after the passing of a loved one.  Some of the scenes in the book were really sad but also full of hope for the future and that next big step.

The ending was utterly out of this world.  I loved it!  It was so unexpected and terrifying but also soooo good! It's also refreshing to read a stand-alone novel for once, rather than having to wait for the next few books in the series to be published.

'Forgotten' was one of the best books of 2011 and one of the best debut novels I've ever read.  With 'Revived', Cat Patrick has taken another step towards cementing her place among the greatest YA authors out there at the moment.  She's certainly already a huge favourite of mine.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Review: Entice - Jessica Shirvington

Entice by Jessica Shirvington, published by Orchard on 6th September 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Since Violet Eden discovered she was Grigori - part angel, part human - her world has been shaken to its core. No longer sure who to trust, Violet soon realises that everyone is hiding something. Even her soulmate, Lincoln. Only one thing is certain: dark angel Phoenix has a hold over her more dangerous than ever...

In the race to win the battle against the darkness, Violet's own powers will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal will be revealed.

This is the second book in Jessica Shirvington's series about fallen angels.  With hindsight, I wish that I had read 'Embrace' again prior to starting this one because I think it would have helped to refresh my memory about some of the plot strands. 

'Entice' has quite a different mood and tone to the previous book.  Violet is now fully aware of her Grigori heritage which has turned her whole life upside down and changed her relationship with soulmate Lincoln.  She's also trying to deal with the after effects of her romance with Phoenix which is still causing repercussions for herself and her friends.

There's not as much romance in the story as I would have liked to have seen.  We know that Violet and Lincoln should be together even though there are some pretty big obstacles in their path, so I was slightly frustrated that it seemed to take them quite so long to face up to this.  There were a lot of lingering looks and sparks flying between them throughout the book but I really just wanted to see them together as a couple.

The plot itself was at times quite complex.  There's a lot to do with religion and the history of the Grigori so I had to read these parts carefully to ensure that I understood everything properly.  The story was also extremely engrossing and clever and 'Entice' was a great read.  Full of suspense there were several surprises and revelations along the way. 

There are plenty more books in this series still to follow, the next being 'Embrace' which I'm hoping will be published in the UK next year. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review: The Demon Trappers: Foretold - Jana Oliver

The Demon Trappers: Foretold by Jana Oliver, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 2nd August 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Riley’s always known that Beck had a chequered history, but she’s not prepared for what it actually means to be in love with a guy with this many dark secrets. Now that he’s finally admitted to himself that he’s in love with her too, there’s no more hiding the truth about his past. And as it turns out, fending off a demon apocalypse is nothing compared to what’s to come...

Wow!  I sat for five hours straight reading this stunning final instalment in The Demon Trapper's series by Jana Oliver.  It was utterly brilliant!  There was simply no way I could put it down until I reached the end.  Jana Oliver must be praised for delivering an ending which will thrill all fans of these fantastic books.  This is a series which has just kept getting better and better.

The story focuses predominantly on the relationship between Riley and Beck.  At long last we get to look into Beck's past and discover why he's been holding himself back from Riley for so long.  Journeying to the town where he grew up, I enjoyed enormously the insight into why Beck has become the man he is.  It explained a lot about his character and personality and if possible endeared me to him even more than before.  I love Beck and everything about him!  I like the fact that the book provides a proper conclusion to them as a couple and there were some scenes that I loved so much they made my heart thump wildly!

I was really pleased with the fact that Oliver dealt with all the plot strands that have been building since the beginning and nothing was left dangling and unfinished.  The concluding part of the story features the showdown between heaven and hell which is explosive and action-packed.  This series has definitely gone out on a high, although I of course would still love to read more of these truly amazing books. 

After five hours I turned the final page with a huge smile on my face at the most perfect ending imaginable.  I could have easily stayed there for another five hours and read the book all over again.  If you're already a fan of this series then I guarantee you will adore 'Foretold' and if you haven't yet discovered these books then you shouldn't wait any longer before you get your hands on them.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Review: The Assassin's Curse - Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke, published by Strange Chemistry on 2nd October 2012
Goodreads synopsis:
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

This is the first book I’ve read from Strange Chemistry and wow, it’s a amazing one! I’d heard a lot about it prior to picking it up myself and all the reviews were incredibly good so I was extremely excited to get the opportunity to read it prior to its publication date.

Cassandra Rose Clarke has written a book which takes fantasy to a whole new level. Combining magic, adventure and romance, the story blew me away and left me wanting more. Plus it has pirates! I mean who doesn’t love books which feature all the excitement of a journey on the high seas where literally anything can and does happen.

Ananna of the Tanarau is set to be married off by her parents to Tarrin of the Hariri, part of another pirate clan. What she really dreams of however is having her own ship which she can sail on the high seas, free to go wherever she pleases. Deciding to run away rather than submit to a marriage not of her choosing, she finds herself unwittingly bound to the assassin sent after her, leading to the beginning of an epic fantasy adventure.

The relationship between Ananna and the assassin Naji develops over the course of the novel. All the while a romantic undercurrent bubbles away in the background and sparks definitely fly when these two are together. I love the way that Clarke isn’t afraid to keep the romance on hold while the two of them are getting to know each other. It makes the whole thing much more realistic and also means that when it does (hopefully!) eventually happen, then it will have been worth waiting for. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but I thought the whole reason they were linked together was brilliant and sets things up nicely for the rest of the series.

There is incredible world building in this book with a fantasy realm where magic really does happen and where dangerous obstacles lie in wait for Ananna around every corner. She however is the perfect heroine to deal with them as she’s feisty, brave, courageous and tough. She is the kind of person that will never give up until she gets a satisfactory outcome.

This was a book which grew on me more and more. I’m not always a huge fan of the fantasy genre but this is among the best I’ve ever read. I’m eager to read the sequel now which will be called ‘The Pirate’s Wish’ and is out in 2013.
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