Take Back the Skies (Tellus #1) by Lucy Saxon

Take back the skies cover

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all.

My Review of Take Back the Skies

Take Back the Skies (Take Back the Skies, #1)Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I know the author was only 16 when she wrote this but the plot is so, so simplistic and full of holes. Cat does daft, unbelievable things but everything always works out for the best and someone always turns up or appears from nowhere to help her. Everyone who works for the government must be incredibly stupid. First, they want to wipe out all the common people; Where would they get their food? Who would do all the work? It’s not something you even need to think about to know it does not make sense. Then Cat puts herself on TV, tells everyone that she is responsible for blowing up the government, even names her ship; and there is no response at all. She goes running around the city with all the freed children and no one bothers them. She returns to her father’s house and no one notices her. The ship is allowed to sit there in the spaceport and no one turns up to arrest them. It’s allowed to fly away with them all on board!

Just as unbelievable was the way Cat arrives on the ship and is instantly accepted so much that they all follow her without question when she almost straight away says that she wants to blow up the government building. Very conveniently they have a load of explosives just sitting around with an explosives expert on the crew.

And then I hated everything about the ending. After everything she’s been through she goes right back to where she was at the start of the book and it’s just so sad.

It’s not badly written and I can see there is a lot of potential. There are some good ideas and I liked the way the sky is full of storms and I loved the ship Stormdancer. I wish more time was spent adventuring on the ship and less hiding (and living!) in the government offices running about to get evidence with the spy cameras.

It starts with potential but massive plot holes and a stupidly simplistic story meant that I couldn’t connect with this one. I’m interested to see what the author can do when she gets a bit of life experience behind her though!

Take Back the Skies
Tellus
Lucy Saxon
Young Adult Sci-Fi
June 5th 2014
Paperback
378

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

Frostblood Cover

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)Frostblood by Elly Blake
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Face them all like a warrior, whether you are one or not.”

Frostblood’s story is as generic as it gets, it doesn’t bring anything new. A young woman’s family is murdered, she finds out she has special powers, she gets recruited by the rebels to overthrow the King. If you’ve read young adult fantasy before, or even if you’ve seen Star Wars, you’ll be able to predict how the story goes.

The characters are bland, none of them manages to step outside their stereotyped role. Ruby is the young woman with the power to summon and control fire. She is hot-tempered, acts without thinking and has the most powerful ability in the country. Special snowflake alert! As normal for a special snowflake, her only flaw is that she acts without thinking and risks her life more than once to save others. Really, that’s not a flaw that just makes her even more perfect. She doesn’t seem to have any personality yet everyone loves her.

Arcus is the mysterious and secretive love interest who starts out disliking Ruby but falls for her when he realises how kind and brave she is. He has less personality than Ruby and I can’t understand why they fall for each other. They must have interactions off page because there is no chemistry at all in their on page interactions.

Then the world doesn’t come alive either. It didn’t feel real, there is no colour or life to it. It’s written from Ruby’s point of view so the whole book is spent in her head and she’s just a badly written drama queen “fatigue pulled at my bones”, “I froze as if I were wrapped in frost”, “I was filled with a terrible pressure of countless sunsets” huh? How does fatigue pull at bones? And sunset pressure? Never heard of that one.

Magic in Frostblood comes from people having the power of ice or fire in their blood. Ruby can make fire and Arcus can make ice. It’s not explained how it works or what the limits are. Ruby can shoot fire from her hands with a thought, and they can both do whatever is convenient them at the time. There’s no logic or order to the magic system so it’s not easy to accept.

I didn’t connect with the characters, the magic is dull and convenient and the writing is bland. I didn’t hate it, but I did get bored by it. It’s young adult fantasy by numbers and it didn’t grab me at all. I don’t think I’ll bother with the rest of the series.

Frostblood
Frostblood Saga
Elly Blake
Young Adult Fantasy
January 10th 2017
Hardback
376

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts, #2) by Vic James

tarnished city cover

A corrupted city. A dark dream of power.

Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own.

New alliances and old feuds will remake the nation, leaving Abi and Luke questioning everything – and everyone – they know. And as Silyen Jardine hungers for the forgotten Skill of the legendary Wonder King, the country’s darkest hour approaches. Freedom and knowledge both come at a cost. So who will pay the price?

My review of Tainted City

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts, #2)Tarnished City by Vic James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Tainted City is a very, very dark sequel to Gilded Cage.

I keep seeing this marked as young adult but with the levels of cruelty, abuse and torture carried out by the magic-wielding Equals I don’t see how it can be. It really should have an 18 certificate!

Luke has been sent to Lord Crovan’s Scottish estate as a condemned, a prisoner, for the crime is he believed to have committed. Lord Crovan is renowned for the experiments he carries out on his prisoner and the sadistic way he treats them. When Luke arrives the level of cruelty he encounters is extreme. Prisoners live in fear, of each other as much of Lord Crovan.

Abi ran away instead of allowing herself to be taken to a slave town. She intends to save her brother from Lord Crovan and allies herself with Luke’s revolutionary friends.

Silyen is gaining power and investigating how skill works. His motives beyond becoming strong in the skill are unknown, he helps Luke sometimes but it seems like it’s only because helping Luke helps himself reach his own goals. He’s one to keep an eye on! I like his viewpoint because he shows more of the magic that is a mystery even to the equals. He wants to know why they were capable of great feats in the past but now they can only use it to simply make life a bit easier.

There is a lot of character growth in this book. Both Abi and Luke have had their eyes opened to the ways of their world and are no longer the naive teenagers from before they started their slave days. Gravan for me is the most interesting character. He started out lazy and uncaring but as he sees how cruel his family is to those without the skill he becomes more and more sickened by it.

Surprises just keep coming from all around, just when you think you know a character they go and show you a different side of themselves. None of them can be seen as all good or all bad.

There are so many different viewpoints though, and so many characters and names being thrown about that I found it hard to keep track of everyone. It’s a fast-paced book but there’s also a lot of talking and a lot of the characters thinking about events and I just couldn’t hold it all in my head.

The politics and the scheming are still overly simplistic. How does Whittam Jardine just take over parliament? It all seems too easy.

I also didn’t like the way it seems to support terrorism, with Abi and her allies burning farms and bombing buildings in London. They do it without question as to whether it’s the morally right thing to do or whether terrorism can ever be justified. I find it irresponsible to not consider this, especially for a young adult book. The Hunger Games covers similar issues but with a lot more attention to the morals.

I like the general idea of the story and I would like to see where it goes but for me, there were just too many people to keep track of, and the terrorism and the endless and sick abuse portrayed throughout made me not enjoy reading this. I found it bleak and a bit depressing and I finished it because I felt that I had to not because I really wanted to.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Tarnished City
Dark Gifts
Vic James
Young Adult Fantasy
September 5th 2017
Kindle
352

The War Of The Flowers by Tad Williams

The War of the Flowers Blurb

In the great city, in the dimly lit office of an impossibly tall building, two creatures meet. Gold changes hands and the master of the House of Hellebore gives an order: ‘War is coming, the child must die’.

My review of The War of the Flowers

The War Of The FlowersThe War Of The Flowers by Tad Williams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s slow, boring and more than a little bit depressing, but the worst thing about it is the main character, Theo. He whines his way through the entire book and gives not a single care about the people around him.

I really disliked him and I can’t understand Poppy falling for him. He thinks about her like she’s a spoiled rich kid, and he treats her that way too. Despite not giving a damn about other people himself he condemns Poppy because without getting to know her he decides that she is like that too. But to be fair Poppy seems to be there only to give Theo a bit of escape from the grinding depression of the rest of the story. She is an extraneous addition to the actual story, only popping up now and again to help Theo show his “kind side”.

If fact, all the women are present only to have things happen to them in order to motivate the male characters. Theo’s mother, his girlfriend cat, Applecore, Eamonn Dowds girlfriend, they all suffer terrible things so that the men in the story have reasons to act.

The story itself moves super slow and consists of 600 pages of Theo thinking “I’m stuck in a world that could kill you at any moment and I know nothing about it” and talking about how he’s a super awesome amazing musician / singer.

Fairyland is not a happy place to be. There are six ruling families with all the power and the money, and the rest of the population are treated as slaves to be used up until they die. The ruling families are fighting amongst themselves and Theo is stuck in the middle running from something trying to kill him with nowhere to go, no idea why he’s been chased, and no one he can trust to help him.

It feels hopeless from the start, Theo does not find anything out, no one will tell him anything. Almost all the characters Theo talks to – “I’m not the one to tell you about this”. But Theo doesn’t really try very hard, and he’s slow to pick up on things when the clues are laid out in front of him. The Clover Effect is mentioned like 50 times through the book, Theo never asks what it is! It’s frustrating to read.

Overall it’s just boring and slow. 

Why did I keep reading? Well, I’m not sure, but at one point dragons showed up and it got interesting for about a minute. Also, Poppy is kinda cool, I was hoping she might get to do something. If the story had been told from her point of view, it could have been good.

Recommended If

You’re too happy and want some relentless grinding depression to bring you down a bit.

The War Of The Flowers
Tad Williams
Fantasy
April 22nd 2003
Paperback
758

Advent (Advent Trilogy #1) by James Treadwell

Advent Cover

Advent Blurb

For centuries it has been locked away
Lost beneath the sea
Warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight.

But now magic is rising to the world once more.

And a boy called Gavin, who thinks only that he is a city kid with parents who hate him, and knows only that he sees things no one else will believe, is boarding a train, alone, to Cornwall.

No one will be there to meet him.

My Review of Advent

Advent (Advent Trilogy #1)Advent by James Treadwell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Seriously, I never thought I’d say this about a book, but this is a story that would have been better without the fantasy and magic.

Gavin is 15 and he sees things that everyone tells him aren’t really there. Mainly a woman he calls Miss Grey. His parents are fed up with him and angry because they think he’s pretending, and when he finally told a teacher about the things he’s being seeing he’s suspended.

Am I being naive but why would his school even suspend him for this? Why wouldn’t they talk to his parents and try to get him to go to the doctors or a psychiatrist?

Anyway, when he gets to Cornwall his aunt has disappeared, and he meets some unusual people while he’s looking for her at the house where she works as a housekeeper or something. What he doesn’t do is go to the police though. Oh no, that would be far too sensible and require some actual action on his part.

It’s very slow moving, we barely cover two days, and it’s a longish book. People were saying random things that didn’t seem to fit with the story, and having long conversations without actually saying anything. There’s a lot of random rhymes dropped all over the place that are supposed to help or provide clues, but actually just waste time. Gavin doesn’t listen to them anyway and he doesn’t actually do anything.

Things just happen to him and even the ending wasn’t anything to do with him. His reason for being in the story is never explained. We’re told that he’s special, but not why, or what he’s supposed to do. We do get a lot of page time spent on him walking around without shoes on though.

My favourite parts were when Gavin was travelling to Cornwall and when he had just arrived. I think the story of Gavin as a teenager who sees things and has been sent away because his family can’t cope with him worked better than when the magic and fantasy were introduced. I like the almost simplistic writing style for this bit, but then when the fantasy side comes in it gets very dramatic and overblown, and kinda confusing.

So overall it’s just a boring, confusing mess. I can’t understand why it’s over 600 pages long when nothing happens.

Advent
Advent
James Treadwell
Young Adult Fantasy
614

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy

Book Blurb

A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

My Review of The Casual Vacancy

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read another review that said The Casual Vacancy is like a mini soap opera, and I think they have it just exactly right. There is no plot to this book, the story line of one of Pagfords residents dying and the fight for his seat on the council is really just an excuse. This is a book about people.

Now I like books about people, I like stories about life and relationships even when there is no real plot, but this just didn’t hold my interest.

I like the writing style and it’s easy to read but there are far too many characters to keep track of. Half way through and I had just about sorted them out and started to remember names and who they are related to / like / have fallen out with.

I did get into it a bit more after I started remembering who was who. Gaia, Andrew, Sukhvinder and Krystal were sympathetic characters.

But the rest of the characters are unlikeable, and everyone in the book is miserable and lead very depressing lives.

It’s a nasty little book filled with nasty little people being horrible to each other. And the events toward the end made me hate life a little bit.

View all my reviews

The Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling
Fiction

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead (ToadWitch #1) by Christiana Miller

Somebody tell aunt tillie shes dead

Book Description

A little magic can go a long way — to really screwing up a girl’s life!

Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that’s what her cards tell her and they’ve never been wrong. She’s evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. So when the tarot cards predict her imminent demise, she uses a little magic to make her world right.

Suddenly, an aunt she’s never met dies, leaving Mara as her sole heir. But when Mara moves into her inherited home, she discovers Aunt Tillie never moved out. She’s still one pissed-off old lady, even post-mortem, and she blames Mara’s magical meddling for her death.

When Mara accidentally releases a demon and awakens the spirit of the most powerful witch in history, Tillie’s ready to kill her — literally. It’s the only way she can think of to save the girl from herself. The witch and the demon, however, have other plans for Mara’s body.

My Review of Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (ToadWitch, #1)Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The cover and the title fooled me into thinking this would be a cosy paranormal romance story, and it sat unread on my kindle for nearly 2 years.

It feels more like urban fantasy to me (cosy urban fantasy?), the ghosts are actually dangerous and there is a fair bit of adult content towards the end.

But even so, the first half I found boring and I nearly gave up on it halfway through. It consists mainly of conversations between Mara and her friend Gus, which I didn’t find interesting.

Gus could have been a good character, but he doesn’t get out of the stereotypical ‘gay best friend’ role. If the author put a bit more thought into his personality he would have been interesting enough to carry most of the book.

When Mara moves into the cottage the story picks up a bit, and Mara gets more likeable. She’s daft and doesn’t think before she does anything, but still I kinda liked her.

I didn’t understand the attraction to the romantic interest, he seems like a bit of an idiot. And then she spends one night with him and suddenly she’s calling him her boyfriend. It was all a bit odd. It could have been left out as it didn’t add anything to the book.

I was happy to get to the end of this, the story never grabbed me and I didn’t really care what happened.

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead
ToadWitch #1
Christiana Miller
Urban Fantasy

Minion (Vampire Huntress #1) by L.A. Banks

minion

Minion Blurb

All Damali Richards ever wanted to do was create music and bring it to the people. Now she is a spoken word artist and the top act for Warriors of Light Records. But come nightfall, she hunts vampires and demons—predators that people tend to dismiss as myth or fantasy.

When strange attacks erupt within the club drug-trafficking network and draw the attention of the police, Damali realizes these killings are a bit out of the ordinary, even for vampires. Soon she discovers that behind these brutal murders is the most powerful vampire Damali has ever met—a seductive beast who is coming for her next…

My Review of Minion

Minion (Vampire Huntress, #1)Minion by L.A. Banks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

dnf at page 148.

I had high hopes for Minion, I really wanted to like it. But the story ripped straight from Buffy, the confusing writing, too many viewpoints, and a cast of bland characters meant I got bored and gave up halfway through.

Nothing about the world or the background of the characters was explained, we are dropped straight into the middle of the action with no reference points or understanding of what’s going on.

Halfway through the book and there was still have explanation of what they’re fighting or why they’re doing.

The confusing writing doesn’t help, some sentences just didn’t make sense no matter how many times I read them.

Maybe it gets better later on, or in the next book, because this is a popular series. But for me it’s not worth the effort to even finish this one.

Minion
L.A. Banks
Urban Fantasy

Street Magic (Black London #1) by Caitlin Kittredge

Street Magic black London #1 review

Street Magic Description

Pete Caldecott was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life  mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes.

Now a detective , Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tip has led police directly to the child but when Pete meets the informant, she’s shocked to learn he is none other than Jack.

Strung out on heroin, Jack is a shadow of his former self.  But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey.

Even though she’s spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago.

My Review of Street Magic

Street Magic (Black London, #1)Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The writing was a bit clunky and awkward. I found it was often difficult to follow what was going on, and why they are doing things.

There wasn’t much of an atmosphere to it, I didn’t get a feel for London itself, and Black London was brushed over. Pete and Jack dipped in and out of it but what it is and what it’s like wasn’t explained so it never came to life for me, I couldn’t picture it

The magic was hard to understand too, but it is a series so maybe it’s explained more in later books.

Main character Peter grated on me. I’m not convinced she is really an Inspector because she acts more like an impulsive child, shouting and whining and making daft threats to criminals. She never did any actual police work so it was hard to understand the professional side of her.

And some of the things she did were odd, like why didn’t she report the first tip off from Jack? Why keep it a secret?

I can’t remember that she what she looks like was described either. She was just a bit bland. Towards the end of the book she was getting a bit more badass, so again maybe she gets better later in the series!

I did like Jack, but I don’t understand why he holds such a grudge against Pete? He dragged her into something she didn’t understand then got upset when she ran scared. And he’d held on to it for 12 years then suddenly changed his mind?

I also liked attraction between Pete and Jack. It was building up towards the end of the book with some moments between them that sparked. I think it holds potential for future books.

Overall there just wasn’t enough magic and not enough of the police work I’d been hoping for. It didn’t hold my interest and I ended up speed reading the last third.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Street Magic
Black London
Caitlin Kittredge
Urban Fantasy

All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe

All Darling Children review

Book Description

All boys grow up, except one.

On the tenth anniversary of her mother’s death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.

On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan’s eternal youth.

My Review of All Darling Children
All Darling ChildrenAll Darling Children by Katrina Monroe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This takes the Disney version of Peter Pan and mixes in a big dollop of The Lord of the Flies. And if you think that sounds like a mix that shouldn’t work, you’d be right. Reading about the cheesiness of Tinkerbell and Smee one minute, and then sacrificing Lost Boys to ensure the survival of the Island’s magic the next is disconcerting.

Madge is the granddaughter of Wendy Darling. Though how that works when Wendy Darling was 12 or 13 in the early 1900s, and Madge is 14 in the present day, I have no idea. Anyway, she goes to Neverland with Peter Pan searching for her lost mother and the truth about her family. Once there she realises that Peter Pan is a dictator, ruling through fear and murdering anyone who stands against him.

Madge is a very underdeveloped character. She never shows any personality of her own, her only conversations with other people involve her sneering at them. Supposedly she is trying to find the truth about her family, but never displays any actual motivation towards doing anything about it.

Pan himself is much more interesting, but for me the best character in the book is the lovely Slightly. A sweet, charming boy, he is Madge’s only potential ally in the Lost Boys.

I wasn’t convinced by the story in this – there was a lot alluded to but never fully explained and Madge just ran around reacting to things and generally being unpleasant. Even her own hunger she is only aware of because Pan hears her stomach growling!

The story never got going and the battle at the end was a big anticlimax.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

All Darling Children
Katrina Monroe
Young Adult Fantasy
200