CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.


Title : Clockwork Princess
Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Infernal Devices #3
Format : ebook
Page Count : 557
Genre : YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Walker Books
Release Date : March 19, 2013

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

The completion of this trilogy within the wider shadowhunters series was an emotive experience. Alongside the fast-pacing and action was a tragedy unfolding and though I had a vague sense of plot direction from CLOCKWORK PRINCE, I didn’t expect what I got. It was rich, it was well written and it was hard to swallow.

This has to be the weirdest and yet most gracious love triangle I have ever read, I found it palatable in the way that love triangles often aren’t. Will had such character growth over book two and then this book, he matured, he stepped up and he was proper hero-material. Jem remained sweet and good but he didn’t draw my focus as much. I continued to like all the other characters, especially Tessa, Charlotte, the Lightwoods, Sophie and Magnus.

Jem’s story arc was unexpected in so many ways (no spoilers), the twists were multiple and clever. The silent brothers element to the story development brought all sorts of jaw drops to my face. Finally getting answers to who Tessa was, was satisfying and seeing the Clockwork Angel come to the fore again was exciting.

This book made me cry and I am a reluctant crier at books, but oh my, how could you not? The epilogue was everything unexpected, joy and pain combined. I am not convinced by the ending, the convenience of the final playing out of events; the now. I would love to hear your thoughts on that ending.

So, late to the party by a decade but here all the same to enjoy a series I thought I’d never read. I might even read the other series in this world that I said I wouldn’t.

THE VINE WITCH by Luanne G Smith

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley. 


Title : The Vine Witch
Author : Luanne G. Smith
Series : Vine Witch #1
Format : ebook
Page Count : 263
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : 47 North
Release Date : October 1, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

THE VINE WITCH was a case of a really strong start and an exciting story that didn’t quite keep hold of that promise all the way through. This was a historical fantasy, set in the wineries of France with a rich history of witches working with the vines and elements to produce good wine. I absolutely loved this idea and the main character Elena was so interesting. Elena remained a strong characterisation throughout, she carried the show.

The story started with a curse, a toad and transformation. Elena’s return to her home was sad and interesting and the two key characters of Grand-Mere and Jean-Paul added to the intrigue. The wider village characters were rich and made me reminiscent of Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

Where my love for the book waned a little was when the story direction changed in the second half. This may be more about my expectations than anything else, but I wanted more time in the winery, how Elena worked, how she and Jean-Paul worked together. I didn’t expect what I got and I longed for more story development in other directions.

The romance that developed was so low-level and unfulfilled in terms of character connection to one another. This story line needed a fuller commitment on the page because I wanted this couple together and I believed in their grudging work relationship, so much that their romantic connection could have been great.

Overall, this was a good read that didn’t quite fulfill what I wanted but it was unique and quick. The second book follows a side character from this story and I believe more of Elena, so I may read on in the series.

PAINTED FACES by LH Cosway

Come forth with an open mind, for an unconventional tale of love..

Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn’t have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.

In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime.


Title : Painted Faces
Author : LH Cosway
Series : Painted Faces #1
Format : Ebook
Page Count : 355
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : December 16, 2012

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Wholly delightful, PAINTED FACES was that elusive treasure hiding down in the depths of my kindle, just waiting for me to catch it’s eye. I don’t know what made me pick it up but I am so glad I did and I really wish I’d read it sooner. I really think this is a special, fresh and unique story. It was released in 2012 but nothing about it feels dated as a contemporary read.

Told in the backdrop of city centre Dublin, Nicholas is a new resident to Ireland and next door neighbour to Fred (Freda). Freda was a most quirky character, brusque and difficult at times but a loyal friend to those around her. Nicholas took to Freda immediately and their working relationship was incredibly fun with star-bolts of chemistry shooting. These two burnt for one another but everything them was laden with insecurity.

Nicholas is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read about, his persona and his real character were both poles apart and complimentary at the same time. I loved him, he appealed to me and his sexual cheekiness was something else. The banter between Freda and Nicholas was divine.

The description in this book of characters, clubs, people, costumes created such a colourful picture in my imagination, that the world was brought to life.

I want to tell everyone about this book and what I’m getting are pitiful looks, ‘yeah love, I read this about 7 years ago, you’re a bit late‘. If for some reason like me this one got buried, rectify your mistake immediately, you won’t regret it. Sometimes the backlog is a treasure chest.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE TRILOGY WRAP UP by Laini Taylor

  1. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE – 4.5 stars
  2. DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT – 4 stars
  3. DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS – 4.5 stars

    This is a Micky post but it is fuelled by Hollis suggesting that I read this story FOR YEARS. We nearly had a disrailment early on reading book one when I realised this was a book about angels and beasts, my blog review is here if you need a refresher on what nearly went wrong for me. However, I came out of book one realising there wasn’t really a Christian connection to this story and that this was a other-worldly yet this-worldly story. There was a lot of action in this book but once it got to the half-way mark, a love story started to build in the form of Akiva and Karou. I was disconcerted for a bit by what I thought was a love triangle but really it wasn’t. There was one of the best gal-pal storylines that began in this book and continues throughout the series. I adored Zuzana and Zuzana with Karou are friendship goals. I loved book one and gave it a 4.5 star review.

Book two, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT was a great action-packed read but it was steeped in sadness, disconnection between the two MCs and that was hard to swallow. I wanted them together but I understood the rift. This was a story to learn more about the world of Eretz but also of the different species that inhabited it. Into this story entered a younger Kiran man called Ziri who pretty much stole my heart. Zuzana and her guy, Mik were very much crucial in this story. I rated this book 4 stars and my review is here.

Book three, DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS was about journeys, battle and strategy. It was about foes becoming friends and reconnections but oh my word, the tension, the mind-blowing tension between Akiva and Karou. I was glued to the page and wishing for them to kiss. I said numerous times ‘just kiss already’ to myself and them.

There was a superb main plot in this book and so many great sub plots apart from one that I disliked (that’s what has taken the rating down from heart eyes to love). Fake grandma was a highlight, Zuz and Mik shenanigans of course and all things Thiago, Ziri and Liraz. The bad guys were epically gross but I loved to read about them.

This is the book of final fulfilment and three books in, binged from start to finish, I needed the sweetness of completion. The culmination did not let me down. These characters became fast book friends and beloved favourites; I think I’ll remember this series for a long time. DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS got a whopping 4.5 stars.

Shout out to Hollis for nagging/pushing me to read this for a few years and for listening to my many ravings along the way. Second shoutout to bookstagram friend Steph for her devoted cooing over my reading of one of her favourite series.

The morals of this reading wrap are as follows:

  1. Do not prejudge tropes, sometimes open your mind and start to read a trope that isn’t your jam, you might have a refreshing surprise like I did.
  2. Series from 5/6 years ago or more should not get brushed under the carpet, keep those recs and positions on your tbr and work your way around to them. I’ve acquired a favourite series from this one.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor 🎧

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Title : Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author : Laini Taylor
Series : Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Format : Audiobook
Narrator : Khristine Hvam
Time : 12 hours 32 minutes
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Audible Studios
Release Date : September 29, 2011

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

Starting this much-loved series that has been on my tbr forever was my main reading aim for the beginning of the year. You do know that Hollis and I are of the ‘no-blurbers’ club, don’t you? What this means is that we read a synopsis when we first put something on our tbr, then we don’t go back to it before we read it. What this also means is that you fall foul sometimes of not knowing what a book is about and for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE this was nearly a derailment. I will explain…

I do not like angel stories, I avoid them at all costs. There’s only one thing worse than this and that’s angel and demon stories. An hour into this listen and it was beginning to become apparent that there were creatures and then there were angels. Fast forward to a hilarous ‘there there, Micky’ convo of encouragement from Hollis and what I found was that this wasn’t a Christian depiction of those beings but otherworldy, yet set in our world. I was able to get into this aspect.

I loved lots about this book but primarily, I loved Karou. She was a character of quirks and giftings that was fascinating. She was also a character full of heart and passion and that was catching. There was an amazing friendship between her and Zuzana that was funny, loyal and heartbreaking too. I was unsure about Brimstone, he creeped me out whilst I found him endearing in moments.

Akiva was a late entry to the proceedings, certainly in the background for much of the first half of the book but when he came face to face with Karou, oh boy, I just sat back and listened. There was something deep and mesmerising when these two were together and they convinced me of their pull pretty quickly. They made me think of Romeo and Juliet, in fact their whole tale did. When all was said and done, the story of Madrigle gave that perspective that slotted everything into place, but it was not a comfortable tale within a tale.

The narration was exceptional for this book. Khristine Hvam narrates with emotion and a wide range of impressive accents. She helped me truly sink into the story.

So, am I fan? Yes I am. Can I deal with these angels and creatures? In this situation, yes I can. There’s maybe a lesson to be learnt for me not to toss certain tropes and contexts out of hand immediately. The proof of this story is really in the fact that I’ve already started book two, mere hours after finishing book one. Thank you to everyone who’s ever recommended this book to me over the years, I got there in the end.

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.

That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.

The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.

From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas.


Title : Five Years Gone
Author : Marie Force
Series : Navy Captain John West #1
Format : ebook
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : HTJB, Inc
Release Date : October 9, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

When I am in the mood, military romance (if that’s a sub-genre) can really float my boat, I’ve had some profound reads in this category that are totally memorable. With this title and the idea it conjures, I was looking forward to an angsty, emotional ride and guess what, that’s exactly what I got.

What surprised me about this book is that I expected this to be about the missing soldier but really it was about Ava, the women he left behind. It was a unique situation, John had kept her in the dark in their two year relationship, encouraging her not to share her connection to him and keep it a secret. Is this ringing any alarm bells for you? It did for me, but not Ava and in retrospect, she put this down to her age and naivety.

“I blame myself for not paying closer attention, but mostly I blame him for leaving me in this torturous state of limbo.”

Five years later, Ava had to move on. The story really concentrates on her new start in a new city and her friendship with Eric. Eric was a good guy, not unrealistically so but I did so like him; he won my heart. The slow development of something more between Ava and Eric was great to read, I’m here for the slow burn always. Ava was definitely a work in progress, a heart-repair project and I came to like her very much.

There were elements of this story that were predictable, it’s pretty obvious with the title that John, her first love returned but that didn’t take away from the reading experience at all. Whilst I didn’t cry, I can tell you that this is the kind of read that had all the feels and I enjoyed rolling with the emotions and occasionally closing my kindle for a breather.

This is my first book by Marie Force and I enjoyed her writing style and the story she crafted. There’s another book to this series, but FIVE YEARS GONE is written so that it can stand alone. That said, I think I’m going to have to pick up with the other character soon.

SCYTHE by Neal Schusterman

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. 


Title : Scythe
Author : Neal Schusterman
Series : Arc of a Scythe
Format : ebook
Page Count : 435
Genre : YA Dystopian
Publisher : Walker Books
Release Date : November 22, 2016

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Get ready to switch your brain on to full engagement if you are reading Scythe because there are levels in this book and if you want to experience it all, you need to jump in on full throttle.

What was unique about this read was the need to engage your emotional intelligence. I can only describe my experience of reading as being in an ‘ethical think’tank’. I felt challenged, doubtful, shocked and pondered a lot over the philosophy and corruption of this dystopian world. I absolutely loved the concept of the ‘thunderhead’ even though it was in the background. There were some great thunderhead twists and I am here for a book two with that same title.

SCYTHE was YA dystopia like I have never read before. It was eerie, engaging, morbid and quite frankly, it was very gory. It felt almost a bit too gory for YA, but I am sensitive to graphic description of violence and death. Two teens, Citra and Rowan, were taken on as apprentice scythes – those that end life in this world without natural death. However, these two caused ripples in the scythedom and that was the premise for the whole book.

“And it occurred to her that being a scythe was like being the living dead. In the world, but apart from it. Just a witness to the comings and goings of others.”

There was amazing character development to read in this book and side characters that engaged me hugely such as Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie. The story line was full and detailed with occasional lulls that soon powered into explosions and fast-pacing.

I didn’t really know where the end of the book would take the reader but the ending blew me away, it was that good. Also, I love a book in a series that ties up some ends without leaving you frustrated, this delivered in that way. I am pretty excited now to where the rest of the series will take me and this being a book club read, I get to pick the details apart and I think that’s pretty perfect.

LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.


Title : Letters to the Lost
Author : Brigid Kemmerer
Series : Letters to the Lost #1
Format : Library ebook
Page Count : 393
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Release Date : April 6, 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I am so late to this series but it is nice to be reading the backlog and not only that but reading the backlog and enjoying it. This contemporary YA packed an emotional punch from the first page to the last and it was a strap-yourself-in kind of ride.

The story of The Dark and Cemetary Girl aka Declan and Juliet was one shrouded in secrets, reveals, lies and anger. These two crashed into each other through letters and messages and I enjoyed the brief epistolary starts to chapters.

The experiences that underpinned the stories, slowly revealed in this book were hefty ones but not unrealistic. The story flowed around grief and loss, touched on abuse and addiction and had that hated element of nasty parenting too. I do struggle with awful parents in YA sometimes but I was able to push through those elements in this story.

One of the absolute strengths of this story was the intensity of the online connection that these two had, it belied their ‘in real life‘ connection. What was even more surprising was that their intense relationship was all genuine and platonic compassion, concern and shared experience. There was a low level of romance but it really was not at the fore, nor did it need to be. I think for the kind of genre this is, it is unusual as romance is often the platform for connections in contemporary YA; Brigid Kemmerer showed her skill in this.

LETTERS TO THE LOST took me on an emotional journey, I felt the sadness and empathised with the loss and despite the lack of hope threaded through, I did enjoy this. It was definitely difficult to put the book down. I am really anticipating the next book and who I think the main character is. However, I have already read book three, chaotic reader that I am.

If you’re one of the few who haven’t read this book, like I was, I do recommend.