THREADNEEDLE by Cari Thomas

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it? 


Title : Threadneedle
Author : Cari Thomas
Series : The Language of Magic #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :576
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Fantasy in a contemporary London setting
Coming of age
Magic exploration

I enjoyed the setting of Threadneedle immensely, I thought the idea of a contemporary London as the backdrop for this tale added an interesting layer. Anna was a mousey, scared character on first glance but she was living in a controlling household where free-thinking, never mind free actions were not permissable. Anna had a lot of character development through the book.

I don’t know why, but I thought this was adult fantasy when it was overtly YA from the off. That meant some teen drama and behaviour I wasn’t expecting and I don’t know if it was just that change to my expectations that brought this read down a bit. I wasn’t always keen on Anna’s grudging companions through the story although some did grow on me.

The themes of freedom, exploration and finding yourself were welcome ones and that was interesting reading in a magical context. This is a long book and the pacing had moments of slowness but then it picked up with gusto and I was enthused to continue.

Overall, this was an appealing concept, a good start to a series and it has a fantastic cover . It will be interesting to see where the series goes.

Thank you to Harper Voyager for the early review copy.

MALICE by Heather Walter

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who cursed a line of princesses to die, and could only be broken by true love’s kiss. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one actually cares about what happens to our princesses. I thought I didn’t care, either. Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to the throne. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating – and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I-

I am the villain.


Title : Malice
Author : Heather Walter
Format : Paperback ARC
Length : 468
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headline:
Twisty plot
Retelling heaven, so fresh
Exponential explosion

Welp, what am I supposed to do with myself now? Malice consumed my down time in a work week, going to bed reading it, waking up thinking about it, finishing and now staring into the distance…

So cleverly written, Malice delivered a plot of intricacy that was carefully built and easily followed. Inspired by Sleeping Beauty but really, so far removed, Alyce was a wonderful, morally grey protagonist. She was oppressed but slowly rising above that difficult life, inspired by the cursed crowned princess Aurora. The contrast of the graces’ powers and the dark grace’s power was such an interesting aspect to the story. Rose was a complex, love to hate character.

Aylce and Aurora’s friendship to more was so well written and credible but also, it was peppered with problems, roadblocks and ultimately a lot of difficulties. While I got to know Aurora less than I hoped (I’m such a greedy reader), there was enough connection there. As an Alyce fan, I needed some better times for her, people to trust (like who?), and friendship.

I am beyond glad there’s another book because I’m in freefall. I need some resolution, some more Alyce, some revenge, some regret. I think you can see that I have all the feelings.

This was a stunning read, a page-turner and the kind of book that makes you wish away the months till you can get hold of the next. I highly advise taking a dive into this book.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copy.

ODIN’S CHILD by Siri Petterson

An epic fantasy trilogy from Norway about thousand-year-old secrets, forbidden romance, and what happens to those who make a deal with the devil comes at last to the United States!

“Imagine lacking something that everyone else has. Something that proves you belong to this world. Something so vital, that without it, you are nothing. A plague. A myth. A human.”

Fifteen winters old, Hirka learns that she is an Odin’s child – a tailless rot from another world. Despised. Dreaded. And hunted. She no longer knows who she is, and someone wants to kill her to keep it a secret. But there are worse things than humans, and Hirka is not the only creature to have broken through the gates…

‘Odin’s Child’ is unique fantasy with Norse roots. An epic clash of xenophobia, blind faith and the right or will to lead.

The first in a trilogy, Odin’s Child is a thrilling modern fantasy epic.


Title : Odin’s Child
Author : Siri Petterson
Series : The Raven Ring #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 519
Genre : Folklore/Retelling
Publisher : Arctis
Release Date : March 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

Headlines:
Ravens
Tails
Beliefs smashed

Whilst the title might suggest a link with old Norsk gods, it actually doesn’t refer to that lore or known belief system at all. The phrasing ‘odin’s child’ isn’t necessarily explained (nor is much else) but it refers to Hirka, the girl poised on womanhood being not of the world she was born into but from another world.

Things I liked about the book were some of the characters like Hirka (MC), Rime and Errik but the story and the world never grabbed me. The plot was long and convoluted and when you lacked the foundations or explanations as a reader, it really was frustrating. I stuck around for the characters.

This was a long book and to be honest, I spent much of it confused. There is no show and no tell, you just have to stick around for 500+ pages to get some sense of the world building and these tenets – the might, the blind, binding, the rite. I remain confused about some elements of the world, even at the end.

I did have to have a conversation with friend who read it to help decide whether to dnf or stick with it. Am I glad I stuck with it? I’m not sure to be honest and sadly, I don’t see myself continuing with the series.

Thank you to the publisher for the early review copy.

THEFT OF SUNLIGHT by Intisar Khanani

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.

Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.

Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself.


Title : Theft of Sunlight
Author : Intisar Khanani
Series : Dauntless Path#2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : March 23, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Slavery
Changing perspectives
Trust and betrayal
Oh you didn’t…

I slipped into the writing of The Theft of Sunlight with such ease and comfort. It was a joy to be back into the world and to enjoy Intisar Khanani’s writing. I didn’t need a Thorn recap because I found it to be such a memorable read.

It was utterly clever to be back with the characters of Thorn but from a different perspective. Alyrra was not the MC but she was a huge part of the story, viewed from Rae (Amraeya) the MC’s story. Rae was not from a noble family but found herself amongst the royal family. Rae was daring, brave and stupid all at once and she had a disability that was so well written. That disability didn’t define her.

I may be a bit roughed up around the edges, but I’m holding together.

This was a story about slavery, with some difficult themes and sometimes some difficult scenes. I appreciated the author’s willingness to take the story into this territory in YA and I was utterly gripped and cared about what was happening in these lands.

Magic remained on the agenda but it wasn’t conveyed in a positive light. The plot overarching this series involving magic, curses, wards and mages has a dark vibe and I’m eager to know more.

There was a little promise of affection and romance but not much beyond suggestion, that felt the right kind of pitch but I foresee Rae’s story going further. Right now I’m trying to forget where we’ve been left with probably a year before the next book but I will wait as patient as I can for anything Intisar writes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in the Dauntless Path series and I cannot wait to read on.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

NAMESAKE by Adrienne Young

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Filled with action, emotion, and lyrical writing, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Namesake, the final book in the captivating Fable duology.


Title : Namesake
Author : Adrienne Young
Series : Fable #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : March 16, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Cover win & inside goodness
Full & satisfying
Trousers over dresses

Helmsman. Dredger. Trader. Orphan. Father. Daughter.

This second piece in the duology did not let me down. I can’t tell you how relieved that makes me when I loved book one, there’s always that trepidation over the next one. This story, this crew, Fable and West really captured my book-loving heart and being able to follow the story to completion was everything.

Interestingly, Fable was a little less tough and a little more weepy in Namesake, showing a vulnerability I didn’t expect. Talking of expectations, family continued to be a key theme in this instalment and it was hard to trust anyone related to Fable.

One of the things that captivated me in Fable was the diving and dredging; I loved for those moments in this book too and there were plenty. I just found that element so interesting, vivid, dangerous and wild.

Even from above, I could feel them – the soft songs of the gemstones hidden in the reef below.

West really struck me with the faith he had in Fable. She pulled some tough decisions, some gut feelings that weren’t based in much and he made things happen as a consequence. West was morally grey but 100% committed. I loved how their power dynamic played out, push and pull but one more in control than the other.

I am all satisfaction at the story, pacing and characterisation of this duology. This will sit happily on my shelves as a favourite.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the early review copy.

ALL THE TIDES OF FATE by Adalyn Grace

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.


Title : All The Tides Of Fate
Author : Adalyn Grace
Series : All The Stars & Teeth #2
Format : ebook/audio
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books/MacMillan Audio
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


3.5 stars

Headlines:
New roles
All at sea
Who needs a man?

This was ultimately a satisfying finale in this exciting duology from Adalyn Grace. I was fortunate to do both audio and the ebook, having review copies of both formats and I enjoyed both experiences. While this installment didn’t hit the heights of book one, I was still happy with the completion.

Amora seemed to have taken a few steps back initially in this book but she was in a new role and grieving. Expectations were heavy on her shoulders and she seemed to falter in decision-making, direction and leadership. Those early and mid-way wobbles made her believable but perhaps not as likeable. The whole, ‘search for a husband cover’ made me sigh heavily but the direction this went was a good outcome.

I felt happiest reading this book when the crew were back together on Keel Haul. I loved the voyages, the team, the banter and togetherness. One of the story directions killed me and I’m still not okay with that event.

This was a fast paced read/listen and pretty exciting with a great wrap up. The last 20% of the read was probably my favourite section. The narration was good with single pov narration that captured Amora, her age and her character well.

Thank you to Titan Books and Macmillan Audio for the early review copies.

THE GILDED ONES by Namina Forna

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.



Title : The Gilded Ones
Author : Namina Forna
Series : Deathless #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA Fantasy, BIPOC
Publisher : Usbourne Publishing
Release Date : February 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★



Micky’s 4 star review

When I read a YA fantasy, I have certain expectations and some of that is that I will see familiar tropes, storylines and features to the story. The Gilded Ones bucked the trends and delivered on what felt to be a particularly unique story.

Deka the main character, was a young woman who was oppressed and as her inital true nature was revealed, her kind was reviled, a demon of these lands. There were so many more reveals to come but the idea of a race that was tortured and persecuted made for a compelling story.

The Gilded Ones was a story mainly about women and it was a story steeped in misogyny. Otera was a land that favoured male roles and oppressed women and girls. There were themes that were difficult to read and witness but there were hopeful and empowering elements woven through this story. There were also some great twists to the story as characters were revealed. I appreciate a storyline that makes you question what you initally thought.

This was a complex world but the world-building was layered in a way that didn’t confuse and brought you along the journey at a pace that worked. I will definitely be continuing with this series and I am impressed by Namina Forna’s debut.

Thank you to Usbourne Publishing for the early review copy.

SECRETS OF THE STARCROSSED by Clara O’Connor

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…

Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city.

But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood.

A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…

When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?

Panem meets the Grishaverse in this explosive new YA trilogy perfect for readers of Marie Lu, Bella Forrest, and Cassandra Clare. 


Title : Secrets of the Starcrossed
Author : Clara O’Connor
Series : The Once and Future Queen #1
Format : Paperback/Audio
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA/NA Dystopian/Fantasy
Publisher : One More Chapter
Release Date : January 21, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 2.5 – 3 star review

I’ve rounded up my rating to 3 stars and I both read and listened to this story. The world created in Secrets of the Starcrossed was one of an elite alternate futuristic/contemporary society but also one with people less fortunate. I didn’t find the world building immediately easy to understand but over time it did get clearer.

There was a lot going on in this story. A number of characters vying for prominence and essentially, I didn’t particularly connect to Cassandra. That lack of connection with the MC played out further into a lack of feeling of chemistry between the characters. This was a pretty fast-paced read with a good tempo, however.

I do have mixed feelings about this book. It has something of an identity crisis; is it fantasy or dystopia, is the underpinning culture Roman or Celtic? It’s a mix of all of the above and I remain unsure how I feel about those elements. Added to this, the gorgeous cover definitely says Celtic fantasy to me but the reading of it doesn’t leave me with this.

With regards to the narration, I did struggle with the choice of narrator who sounded into her 50s or 60s by voice. The main characters whose POV this was told from, was a teenager. That disconnect isn’t ideal, however I did like being able to experience both formats in tandem.

So overall, I’ve ended this book a little unsure of how I felt about it and what I think about future installments. I do think the synopsis comparisons to other famous worlds are a little ambitious and often not that helpful to readers, I don’t want to make those comparisons and feel left short. This is a book that is definitely worth giving a try to see if you gel with the culture and world, especially if you like Celtic and British cultures and history colliding.

Thank you to One More Chapter for the early review copies.

A CROWN OF TALONS by Katherine & Elizabeth Corr

Fight or flight . . . or both?

Three months after Aderyn’s coronation the court is celebrating the Solstice, but Aderyn is preoccupied by Lucien’s continuing hostility. The celebrations are interrupted by the arrival of nobles who have escaped from the neighbouring country of Celonia – the flightless have risen up and overthrown their rulers. The world is changing.

As people being to question whether Aderyn and Aron are strong enough to rule, there is an attempted assassination on Aderyn’s life. Siegfried and Tallis have made their move – they have formed an army, declared war and will take the throne, by any means necessary.

Aderyn must fly to unchartered territories and risk the lives of everyone she loves to defeat her enemies, secure her throne and unite her people.

Epic, dangerous and impossible to put down, this finale takes you on a soaring journey through grief, strength and determination to fight for what is right, what you love and what is yours. 


Title : A Crown of Talons
Author : Katherine & Elizabeth Corr
Series : A Throne of Swans #2
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : January 7, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

How did I not realise this was a duology and not a series? I’m pretty pleased I got the culmination in book two and this was a pleasant realisation towards the end. I didn’t have chance to re-read the first book before diving into A Crown of Talons but I needn’t have worried, these authors caught you back into the tale with ease and without repeating lots of info. I knew where I was within a few pages and I was totally wrapped up in the story in those first few pages too.

The world of A Throne of Swans is built on humans that can transform into birds of flight but also an under class of the flightless and I’ve loved that it’s a historical fantasy world. This sequel brought war, leadership wrangling, marriage difficulties, betrayal and so much eye-glued to the page. I enjoyed reading the politics as Aderyn slowly and delicately considered and worked towards a place of equality for those of these lands. The politics in the book weren’t onerous but they were all part of the strategy and plot development.

Adaryn, Aron, Odette and of course Lucien were the characters I was dying to find out what was happening with. There were some gutting and clever twists to the story but I was always hoping. No spoilers here, you’re just going to have to read.

The Throne of Swans world has been one I’ve been so happy reading in despite book two not being a happy book as such. Talons was a fairly fast paced read but it also had times where you got to catch your breath and take stock.

This YA fantasy duology is such an all-encompassing reading experience with beautiful covers as well. These are going to look so pretty on my shelf and I will continue to recommend these reads to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Thank you Hot Key Books and Kaleidoscopic Tours for the review copy.

BRAMBLES by Intisar Khanani

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.


Title : Brambles
Author : Initisar Khanani
Series : Dauntless Path #0.5
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 40
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : December 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Brambles is a prequel novella to the full length and wonderful Thorn (you can see my review here). This story finds Alyrra quite a bit younger and back in time in her original lands. This really is a brief origin story about why Alyrra found herself on the end of Valka’s wrath and how the plot for Thorn eventually unravels.

I hated Alyrra’s brother and Valka in Thorn so this wasn’t the nicest company to be keeping in this novella. These two were bullies in Alyrra’s life, manipulating and controlling. Alyrra’s mother wasn’t much better either. I always hated that Alyrra didn’t have any allies at the beginning of Thorn and this is what we see in Brambles. BUT this was still a very engaging world to be in. Reading about villians can still be fulfilling!

The world created in this series is intruiging, pretty fresh and as a collective, I’ll alwaysbe happy to read in this world. If you aren’t aware, the second book in the series The Theft of Sunlight is coming in March 2021 and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Whilst Brambles is not essential reading to the series, it’s a welcome snippet and insight into the grand story.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.