THE BLOOD TRAITOR by Lynette Noni

She’d failed them. All of them. And now she was paying the price.

Kiva thought she knew what she wanted-revenge. But feelings change, people change . . . everything has changed.

After what happened at the palace, Kiva is desperate to know if her friends and family are safe, and whether those she wronged can ever forgive her. But with the kingdoms closer to the brink of war than they’ve ever been, and Kiva far away from the conflict, more is at stake than her own broken heart.

A fresh start will mean a perilous quest, forcing mortal enemies and uneasy allies together in a race against the clock to save not just Evalon, but all of Wenderall. With her loyalties now set, Kiva can no longer just survive-she must fight for what she believes in. For who she believes in. But with danger coming from every side, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, does she have what it takes to stand, or will she fall?


Title : The Blood Traitor
Author : Lynette Noni
Series : The Prison Healer #3
Format : eARC
Page Count : 482
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : June 14, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Trope check goodness
Unforgiveable?
Page-turner

I am so incredibly sad this series is over but then I couldn’t help race-reading this because it was so unputdownable. Picking up immediately where we were so cruelly left at the end of The Gilded Cage, this installment rushed at my brain like a whirlwind, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Jaren, Jaren, Jaren, Kiva, Kiva, Kiva. Oh the longings, the emotions, the hurt, it was a lot of everything and at this point, I was so invested in this couple that I had to let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding (I’m just messing with you) when they were on the page. The plot was so rich with found family goodness, I simply adored the cast of characters that found themselves on a quest. Tripp was a little more in the background but he still brought light when he was there.

It was so good to finally see the Corentine-Vallentis and other royal family stories go full circle, finding answers to series plot points and Noni delivered so well on these elements. Nothing was rushed, everything was carefully crafted and the journey readers have been taken on felt so worthy of these three books.

Also that last line of the book…precious.

I could definitely read a novella epilogue for these characters, pretty please?

Thank you to Hodder Books for the eARc and the ride!

ORDINARY MONSTERS by J.M. Miro

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce has spent 100 years wreaking her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. No one escapes the consequences of her wrath.

Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But that love came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break, and their dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora ever love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?


Title : Ordinary Monsters
Author : J.M. Miro
Series : The Talents Trilogy #1
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 660
Genre : Historical Fantasy/Horror
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date : June 7, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

This has just been such a creepy and absorbing read. It’s a bit of a tome, it’s absorbing and it is incredibly unusual.

It’s a historical fantasy/horror that takes place between the US, London, Scotland, Tokyo…and places in between. There are children with ‘talents’ some of which are pretty scary gifts. And then, there are monsters of different descriptions after them. Thankfully there are some decent adults trying to protect them but then which are decent and which have other agendas? It isn’t clear for much of the book. I cheered all the way for the children.

This is a series starter and it’s going to be a trilogy. It’s atmospheric, eerie, dark and sad. The tension was pretty strong, there’s some gruesome elements but nothing I couldn’t cope with. There were twists on twists.

I’m definitely invested and I will be reading on when the next book is out. I could totally see this as TV series.

Thank you Bloomsbury Books for the gifted copy. The book is out now.

THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner

The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.

Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything – or so he says. Then his boasting lands him in the king’s prison, and his chances of escape look slim.

So when the king’s magus invites him on a seemingly impossible quest to steal a legendary object and win back his freedom, Gen in no position to refuse.

The magus has plans for his king and his country. Gen has plans of his own . . .

Megan Whalen Turner weaves Gen’s stories and Gen’s story together with style and verve in a novel that is filled with intrigue, adventure, and surprise.


Title : The Thief
Author : Megan Whalen Turner
Series : The Queen’s Thief #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 236
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : May 5, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

Headlines:
I hyped this up for myself
Not a lot goes on for the first half
Interesting characters

The Thief is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a few years and it’s finally getting a UK publisher this year. I bit the hand off netgalley and Hodder for this but I think the hype I’d got myself into over it ultimately made me crash and burn.

This is a character-driven, plot light ya fantasy, pitched around a thief (Gen) and his troop of keepers. Basically, for the first half, not a lot happens but there was enough to just about keep me engaged and that was because I really liked Gen. Surprisingly, I came to like his keeper, the Magus.

When things did pick up (a bit) plot-wise, I think I’d got beyond feeling invested. When I look at the other reviews for this book (it’s been released elsewhere for decades), many talk about the slowness of this read but that the investment is worth it for the series. Feeling as I do, I’m unsure whether I will continue.

I’m sad I haven’t nicer thoughts to share, but we can’t always share our book friends’ love for recommendations.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy. 

ONLY A MONSTER by Vanessa Len

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.


Title : Only A Monster
Author : Vanessa Len
Series : Monsters #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 368
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : February 17, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Families, rivarlty and time
Complex plot
So clever and twisty

I’m really impressed with this story that kept me gripped in a work week. I was eager to pick this up every evening. While it is a complex plot that builds and builds, it’s not too heavy, if that makes sense.

Joan and the Hunt family were not the bunch of regular humans they seemed at first glance. The reader was quickly introduced to the concept of ‘monsters’ and it took a good portion of the book to find out why they earned that name. They weren’t necessarily the kind of monstrostity I’d initally thought. Everything about how this concept, the world, the time and time jumps were constructed, was incredibly clever. I just went with the flow and found myself pretty enamoured with the creation.

Some of the characters were vile, especially in the earlier part of the story but there were many characters I came to love. June, the protagonist, was out of the loop in her new found power but she was quick to catch on. There was something unique about her amongst her kind because she looked at everything with fresh eyes and she wasn’t overly bound by the rules or impossibilites; this idea fed into the plot well. I really came to like Aaron and Tom but I went back and forth over Nick; his story had so much to unpick.

This story felt very much like a YA fantasy thriller, lots of tension, peril, plot-puzzling and the hint of a triangle. I am so glad there’s more to come from this world and characters, I’m ready to see things turned on their heads again.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

COURT by Tracy Wolff

No one survived the last battle unscathed. Flint is angry at the world, Jaxon is turning into something I don’t recognize, and Hudson has put up a wall I’m not sure I’ll ever break through.

Now war is coming, and we’re not ready. We’re going to need an army to have any hope of winning. But first, there are questions about my ancestors that need answers. Answers that might just reveal who the real monster is among us.

And that’s saying something in a world filled with bloodthirsty vampires, immortal gargoyles, and an ancient battle between two gods.

There’s no guarantee that anyone will be left standing when the dust settles, but if we want to save this world, I have no choice. I’ll have to embrace every part of me…even the parts I fear the most.


Title : Court
Author : Tracy Wolff
Series : Crave #4
Format : Physical
Page Count : 704
Genre : Fantasy YA
Publisher : Entangled Publishing
Release Date : February 1, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Why so much detail…
Hud-ace or Gra-son 4 eva
Wild, convoluted plot

So, here we are again, I’m expressing some of the same things about this series but I’m still here and intending to read on. This series has incredible detail to a fault, the books are mostly about 700 pages and there’s a lot of padding we don’t need. Most of that padding is inner monologue and plot detail to the highest degree. However, I have come to be invested in the characters, especially Grace, Hudson but also Jaxon and Flint. I can’t seem to walk away quite yet, even though the reading experience is annoying at times.

I buddy read this with Bethany which really helped and although Bethany is perhaps a bigger fan of this series than me, she felt the same issues on reading. Things I enjoyed about this book were the trials (but less detail), Grace and Hudson’s connection, the Jaxon/Flint suggestion and the reveals regarding Grace’s family tree. I loved the unkillable beast. I’m not overly invested in Remy or Macy and I hated Cyrus.

There’s a full cast of characters in this series if you like that kind of set-up, with many paranormal creatures. I do love Grace’s gargoyle context.

For me, this has been a case of 3 to 4 star ratings for this series. I think I have one read for this series left in me!

THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA by Axie Oh

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…


Title : The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea
Author : Axie Oh
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 321
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 22, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines
Beautiful characters
Lyrical, fantastical and misty mystery
Spirited Away vibes

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea had my imagination on overdrive, creating visuals akin to Studio Ghibli. The vibe of the whole piece was stunning, the villages above the sea but even more, beneath the sea, was fascinating.

Mina was a sweet, selfless and often foolish 16 year old. She loved fiercely and stepped in to save those she loved from their difficulties…and found herself attached quite literally to the Sea God. I was not enamoured by the Sea God at all and for a hot moment I thought I was going to lose my interest until that plot point developed and I gave my full investment.

The book was rounded with some amazing character aside from Mina. Shin had all my attention, I couldn’t work him out, who he was, what he wanted but I believed in his connection to Mina. I adored Dai, Miki and Mask quite quickly, but I couldn’t work out their purpose in the story but when I did, oh my word, the emotions were rolling through me.

If I were to describe this book, I’d say it was a beautiful read, a special standalone and one I’d recommend to all YA fantasy lovers.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the beautiful review copy.

THIS WOVEN KINGDOM by Tahereh Mafi

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.


Title : This Woven Kingdom
Author : Tahereh Mafi
Series : This Woven Kingdom #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 495
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Electric Monkey Books
Release Date : February 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4.5 star review (rounded the heck up)

Headlines:
Those eyes, hands, fire and ice
Poverty and royalty
Sweeping connection

Mafi has created a world I want to exist in as a reader (not as a person), she brought uniqueness coupled with familiarity of vibe and Middle Eastern folklore. I was enamoured by it, beckoned into the story and characters and I’m sad it’s over…for now.

Alizeh was a servant of the lowest capacity, wearing her hands to sores, having barely any time to sleep and yet she was a Jinn and meant for more. It was easy to be lured into her character; she was humble but wiley, invisible but strong and I loved seeing the increasing glances of all she might become.

Kamran was the prince of the land, back from recent battles and really not in the know about how his kingdom was run. There were dreams, real glimpses of one another and intrigue. I loved how that connection built, even though it was over a shortish period of time. I felt the chemistry, the forbidden sides of their star-crossed ties.

“Surely you must see,” she said.
“There exists no bridge between our lives, no path that connects our worlds.”

The lands, how the priviledged lived, made avid reading from Alizeh’s perspective. I really liked some of the side characters like Omid, the apothecarist, the firefly. The jury is out on how I feel about Hazan, Miss Huda and I definitely didn’t like the blue-eyed stranger.

This story finished with an almighty bang of course and I have taken notes so I am fresh when it comes to book two. I hope you find this to be the same kind of whisk-you-away read that I did; definitely a favourite of the year so far.

Thank you to Electric Monkey books for the early review copy.

CASTLES IN THEIR BONES by Laura Sebastian

Born to rule. Raised to deceive.

The plot: overthrow a kingdom. The goal: world domination. The plan: marriage.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides – because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal – to bring down monarchies – and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vestria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans – and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone – not even each other?

Laura Sebastian stuns in this new trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess. A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown.


Title : Castles In Their Bones
Author : Laura Sebastian
Series : Castles In Their Bones #1
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : February 1, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3-3.5 star review

Headlines:
Three princesses separated but working together
Nothing is as it seems
Control, subversiveness and stardust

Castles In Their Bones was a really interesting world and concept, I have lots of positive things to say about this book and reading experience. It started very strong and it was incredibly easy to get my teeth into.

This story is orientated around three star-born triplet princesses coming into adulthood and off to marry Kings and princes in other lands as agreed at their birth. What was engaging about this story was how Beatriz, Sophronia and Daphne were raised, to be tools and to be strategic. Their mother was not nurturing.

There was a background magic system orientated towards the stars, the ability to draw dust from the stars and it’s uses. It wasn’t overtly prominent but it was a convenient plot device. The characters these sisters met and crafted relationships with in their new lands were interesting. I must say it was hard sometimes to keep track with the three new lands and their characters in tandem. In general, the narrative was orientated around the three sisters’ POVs.

I enjoyed this read but it didn’t wow me, I’d definitely like to see where it goes in the next book thanks to a twisty ending and a late shock plot turn. It felt a little long to read and it lost pace a little for my taste, but that could have just been me. I think this read will appeal to those lovers of YA fantasy with royal context.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

SKIN OF THE SEA by Natasha Bowen

An unforgettable fantasy debut inspired by West African mythology, this is Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid, in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves.

A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.


Title : Skin of the Sea
Author : Natasha Bowen
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 323
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Penguin
Release Date : November 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
West African fantasy wow
Slavery and fighting back
Lush cover

I’m blown away by the cover on this book, it is stunning and provides such a fantastic visual for Simi the main character. I really bought into this story initially, Simi being a mermaid-esque being but able to transform to human on land. Her job was to collect the souls of those dying at sea, particularly slaves killed on the boats taking them away from their native shores.

I really loved the early elements of the folk lore& gods but it did get more complicated and a bit harder to follow at times. It wasn’t a long book but the second half felt a little longer than it should have to me. Kola, the human alongside Simi had a joint quest to fulfill with Simi and that premise for the story was interesting but again with a rather complex set of gods and magical elements to follow.

I liked this book but sadly I didn’t love it like I thought I might. I’d definitely read this author again however and I really appreciated the slavery perspective and generally the African fantasy context.

Please check out some black reviewers on this book. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC through netgalley.

YEAR OF THE REAPER by Makiia Lucier

From the writer whose stories have been called “brilliant” (Booklist), “masterful” (Horn Book), and “breathtaking” (School Library Journal), comes a romantic new standalone fantasy.

The past never forgets . . .

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprenticeon a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over theland, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a mercilesssickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what heremembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And theyhave brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targetsthose closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for akiller…one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliantyoung historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terriblesecret–one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plungeit back into war.


Title : Year of the Reaper
Author : Makiia Lucier
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : November 9, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Standalone goodness
A gripper
Twists

I got on board with Year of the Reaper in a handful of pages. This story in the context of a waning plague didn’t jar me at all from a COVID perspective. So, I want to say that if you have that worry, this isn’t pandemic-y. This was a historical fantasy with great depth, all encapsulated in a standalone. I romped through the pages, not wanting to put it down.

Cas was a young man battling with the psychological scars of captivity and returning home after a long absence. He returned to a home and city recovering from the plague, there were new incomers to his home, old allegiances and plenty of secrets to unravel. Those secrets, the shocking events that occured and the twists in the plot were fantastic.

Buddy reading this was a great idea (thanks for your company, Steph) because we could chat through the things that happened. The pacing was fast but also very well metered out. There was a smattering of romantic connection but it was in the background and I was satisfied with how that was pitched. I would have liked just a little more about Cas’ special ability.

This book has everthing you want, a standalone, twists, great characters that have depth and a story you don’t want to put down. I’m excited to read more by Makiia Lucier.

Thank you to Hodderscape for the review copy.

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