The White Rose... I love this series!

Contains spoilers for The Jewel. See my review here.

The White Rose The Lone City Book Two
Written by Amy Ewing
Dystopian, Romance, Magic
Published October 1st 2015
368 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised, a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.
Caught in the arms of the lowly companion in Ash, Violet knows the only way to ensure her survival is to escape the clutches of the Duchess of The Lake. Violet left her family behind to become little more than a number. Girls are traded as mere commodities, those able to draw upon the Augury power using the elements are sold into imprisonment, breeding life into the royal bloodlines. Now while Ash is awaiting execution, Violet faces a life of cruelty and solitude while fearing for the life of her best friend Raven, a girl who will surely face death soon enough.

Along with the help of Lucien and an unlikely source in Garnet, Violet, Ash and the delicate and damaged Raven are on the run, but it isn't Violet who adorns the wanted posters. Ash is accused of a crime punishable by death and in order to reach the Farm, the three escapees have no choice but put their trust in a band of revolutionaries simply known as the Society of the Black Key. The Black Key want to live in a world where the royal families no longer rule and poverty no longer exists. To defeat the kingdoms and unite society's rings against the Jewel, first they will need to tear down the walls. United. As one.

Kelly's thoughts

The Lone City series may be the last of the traditional young adult series with instant love, a revolution and fighting against an oppressive regime... And I loved every moment. It's almost a guilty pleasure much in the same way readers enjoyed The Selection, and The White Rose is a fantastic installment in the series. Once again we follow the storyline of Violet on her journey as Surrogate for the Duchess of The Lake, for her Augury ability and her unusual eye colour. She's been separated from her best friend in Raven, who is being tortured for the sake of science and barely coherent. It isn't until Violet and the royal consort in Ash are caught in each others embrace, when they realise how dangerous the situation has become. To survive, they must escape and along with a disillusioned Raven, their only source of safety may be the illusive Farm.

Over the course of The White Rose, the focus moves away from the romance of book one with the storyline following the revelations of The Jewel and Violet, Ash and Raven's escape from the clutches of the royals. The instant love has been replaced with a much more comfortable companionship, as Violet's main focus is to reach the Farm and ensure Raven's safety. I really enjoyed Violet's character so much more in this installment. She didn't hesitate to take charge, putting the lives of both Raven and Ash before her own. By far my favourite character is Garnet. His character undergoes the most development and readers will feel a sense of who he is beyond the wild reputation for partying and bedding women. We see what may be the beginning of a tentative friendship or relationship between two unlikely characters which I hope is explored further.

The final verdict

Although I did really enjoy The White Rose, I don't think an entire book dedicated to their escape to the Farm was necessary. If not for leaving readers on tenterhooks once again and exploring the Augury abilities, this series probably could have been shortened into a duology. Nevertheless, The White Rose sets the scene for an incredible finale, engaging characters, a reliable storyline and what could be the last of the traditional young adult dystopian series.

Kelly is an Aussie who's love of chocolate milk is only surpassed by her love for Alice in Wonderland. She is currently on a semi hiatus.


Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Air Awakens
Air Awakens: Book One
Written by Elise Kova
Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic
Published August 27th 2015 by Silver Wing Press
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A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Vhalla is a young apprentice of the library. She leads an ordinary life until one night, the Crown Prince Aldrik returns to the capital near death. It is her research that saves the dark prince. Unbeknownst the her, the notes she wrote that night have faint traces of magic that leads Aldrik to her. Vhalla's world is turned upside down when she is told that she is the very thing that she has been raised to fear - a sorcerer.

Now, Vhalla has the decision of a lifetime to make and only a short time to do so. She must choose whether or not to accept the rare gift bestowed upon her or to eliminate that part of herself for good. Along the way she will learn the beginnings of magic, but with every deal there are stipulations. Vhalla's path is one filled with danger and intrigue from forces unknown to her.

Kynndra's Thoughts

GUYS. GUYS. I don't know what is with me but I am craving YA fantasy like a madwoman. Seriously, before this year I was lucky if I ever looked at a fantasy book, let alone read one. But whoof, these past few months it's all I want to read. Air Awakens fits just right in that category. AND LET ME TELL YOU WAS IT FUCKING AWESOME. Okay, usually I hate swearing in reviews because I know authors sometime read them, but to hell with it because I feel so pumped about this series - this book.

I've seen this book floating about here and there, but I didn't heed much attention to it until Tika over at Fangirl Confessions recomended it to me. She was so, so right about it being amazing. In the beginning I felt unsure, and I lowkey sighed because I thought I was wasting my time with it. But give or take 30-40 pages I couldn't stop reading. I have the dark circles to prove it (ha! they're permanent because who needs sleep when there are BOOKS AND HOT PRINCES).

FANGIRLING PREVAILED HARDCORE. Okay let me be the first to say that I need a good romance/ship in my fantasy books. I am a sucker for romance because I'm a lonely little dweeb and I like to imagine that men like Prince Aldrik actually exist. But more importantly, I need a romance with actual chemistry. Vhalla and Aldrik clashed at first, honestly I thought Aldrik was an absolute prick in the beginning but GIVE HIM TIME PEOPLE. I adored these two, more than I ever thought I would. FUCKING PERFECTION ALRIGHT. I wish I could elaborate further but I'll let you guys experience it when you read it.

Whenever any male besides Aldrik tried to touch Vhalla my internal mama bear did a whole lotta this:

Before I forget, can we give Merilliza a round of applause for her eyegasmic cover art? BEAUTIFUL.

Onwards and upwards. Elise Kova did a phenomenal job in making the story full - yet fast paced. While I would usually say that some of the events happened much too fast, they didn't - it just worked so well here. Plus, I would sooner have a fast paced story than one that is painfully slow. Me and slow books just don't work (for the most part). Kova's writing was also one of my favorite parts of Air Awakens; it proved to be sharp, witty and held my attention the entire way through. She's also not afraid of taking risks which I loved. This woman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Usually in fantasy books you get this bodacious, beautiful and kick-ass female right off the bat - which I don't really like. I mean in some cases it's okay. But I found myself relating to Vhalla far more than most other female characters I have come across. First of all, she LOVES books. Totally adores them, which obviously is something many of us can relate to. But my real favorite part was that she starts out small and unsure of herself. She's a nobody, she isn't a special snowflake, she's just a servant living her normal life. And even when she became powerful, she didn't lose who she was before. That in it's own right makes her one of the most kickass YA characters in my opinion. I just love her because I see a bit of me there, which truth be told - hasn't happened until her.

The plot and the world were also interesting key factors of Air Awakens. I loved learning about the different factions of sorcerers (there's a name for them but it escapes me at the moment). They kind of reminded me of the element benders on the anime called Avatar: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water which is really wicked. I really look forward to reading more on what the sorcerers can do. UGH THE CLIFFHANGER AT THE END WILL KILL ME SO I MUST GO BEGIN BOOK TWO NOW.

In Conclusion

Air Awakens is a small time fantasy novel that has a whole lot to offer. While it's not perfect and has some flaws, it has been one of my favorite reads this year. I believe that this series will have a huge following soon enough once words gets out on how exemplary it is in all aspects: cover, characters, writing and plot. Elise Kova has created a whole new world for fans of magic and fantasy. Plus she writes incredibly quick so there's not a tremendously long wait for sequels. I cannot wait to continue Vhalla's epic journey in book two, Fire Falling.

Kynndra is currently reading Fire Falling by Elise Kova, slowly reading A Clash of Kings, and dreaming of Prince Aldrick.


Magisterium Double Shot... Yer' a Wizard Callum

The Iron Trial Magisterium Book One
Written by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published  September 2014
320 Pages
Purchased. Published by Random House Australia
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Think you know magic? Think again. The Magisterium awaits.

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst, and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come.
It's the day or The Iron Trial, where teens are plucked from their classrooms to be tested for their level of magical ability as to whether or not they will be chosen for the Magisterium, a boarding school for the gifted. But not twelve year old Callum. His father had always instilled the fear that magic must never be used and children taken into the Magisterium will never return. Callum blunders his way through the trial but has caught the eye of the Master Rufas, a prestigious senior tutor who has also guided Callum's late mother and sees the potential in the untrained mage. 

"You will discover what your ordinary self would never have had the privilege to see. You will learn great things and you will do even greater things.

Welcome to the Magisterium."

Suddenly it seems as though everything Callum was taught about the Magisterium may have been a lie. Along with teammates Tamara and Aaron, Master Rufas will take the three young mages under his wing to one day face combat against an enemy in which power has engulfed their humanity, while the Magisterium awaits a chosen hero to counteract the Enemy of Death. Finding friends, allies and a place where Callum feels accepted and valued will come at a price, what will unravel will shake Callum to his core. A secret that will threaten to tear the magical world apart.

The Copper Gauntlet Magisterium Book Two
Written by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published September 1st 2015
270 Pages
Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to school in the magical world of the Magisterium.

It’s not easy for Call... And it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium but things only intensify there. The Alkahest, a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic - has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.
Callum has survived his first year at Magisterium, now a second year mage who's magic cannot be bound. He's home for the summer break and his relationship with his father is now strained at best, still attempting to convince his only child to leave the school behind. With his Chaos wolf by his side, it seems his father has an ulterior motive and before he can confine Callum to a life of experimental testing, Callum flees for the safety of the Magisterium once more. 

But when a priceless artifact is stolen, all fingers are pointed firmly at Callum's father who has now fled and on the run. Callum's secret threatens to be exposed, but along with Aaron, Tamara and a very reluctant Jasper, they'll need to hunt down the Alkahest, find Callum's father and stop the sacrificial mistake he's about to make. Before it's too late.

Kelly's thoughts

The Magisterium series had drawn similarities to the Harry Potter series, a boarding school for magicians slash mages who are fighting against the evil of the world, but with enough differences to stand on it's own merits. Both The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet are fantastic middle grade reads that explore a boarding school for teens known as the Magisterium, where children with magical abilities are chosen to hone their skills as mages, training for a war against their own kind. Despite his father's wishes, Callum not only is chosen to enter the Magisterium but will train under the accomplished Master Rufan who also trained his late mother, a woman tragically killed when Callum was still an infant and left the boy irrevocably damaged. 

Callum's injury has always ensured his loneliness, mocked throughout school for his distinct limp. But now at the boarding school for mages, Callum finds himself not only with friends but a purpose greater than he's even known. I really liked Callum's character. Even with his permanent impairment, he never saw himself as anything other than able and wanted to be treated as such. Along with his team slash roommates Aaron and Tamara, they begin training under the prestigious master Rufas, a man known for only training the best of the best and despite Callum's best intentions to be expelled from the Magisterium, he starts to realise his father may have been wrong in his dire warnings.

The tentative friendship between Callum, Aaron and Tamara was a strange combination, I think that's where the Harry Potter similarities also lie along with the boarding school location and rivalry between the mages in training. But for me, that's where the similarities end. I loved the character dynamics and rivalry, it added a much needed layer to what was a fairly light storyline. Appropriate for the intended audience and those who enjoy an entertaining middle grade read.

the final verdict

Compared to Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, I enjoyed the writing so much more with thanks to Holly Black I suspect and looking forward to reading her previous releases as a result. I enjoyed The Copper Gauntlet slightly more than The Iron Trial and looking forward to the next release in the series. Rather than recommend it to fans of Harry Potter, I feel the Percy Jackson audience may appreciate this series more so. It's entertaining and a quick read for those who enjoy middle grade fantasy and adventure such as myself. 

Kelly is an Aussie who's love of chocolate milk is only surpassed by her love for Alice in Wonderland. She is currently on a semi hiatus.


The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Contains spoilers for book one of the Seven Realms series: The Demon King

The Exiled Queen
Seven Realms: Book Two
Written by Cinda Williams Chima
Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic
Published September 28th 2010 by Disney Hyperion
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Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Han Alister, now seventeen has just discovered the cuffs he has worn since he was a child were placed there for a reason: they hid what he truly is - a wizard. With this new revelation, Han and his best friend Fire Dancer are sent to Mystwerk House by the clans to learn how to harness their magic skills. There they discover that they too are not the only ones set on a path. Along the way, Han faces further danger amongst not only his fellow classmates - but a mysterious and unknown wizard by the name of Crow. Undergoing the mentoring of multiple wizards leaves Han gaining more knowledge than he ever knew was out there, some worse that he ever imagined.

Raisa is not far from Han. She too has landed at school, Oden's Ford which is right across from Mystwerk. There she learns the ways of a soldier and the ways of being a true queen. She must avoid being discovered as the princess heir; therefore she goes under the disguise of Rebecca Morley. She faces many dangers, but none more so than her hearts desires. If she hopes to become queen she must stay under the radar from her enemies that are only a bridge away.

Kynndra's Thoughts

I am so happy that I decided to marathon this series. I have a bad habit of never finishing a series: I'll read the first book, and despite how much I enjoyed it, I never return. It would have been such a waste if I decided to just read the first and "come back to this series later" because the sequel exceeds that of the first, and I've been told it only gets more climactic from here. I'm currently reading the third and I can't wait to see what shit goes down in that one.

Anywho, The first book The Demon King started off slower than molasses but thankfully picked up. I say that like it's a bad thing, but let me clarify that the first book was fantastic. The Exiled Queen, however was a very fast read (for me anyway). There was much more excitement when it came to our characters lives. We have Han Alister, our fair haired boy who went from a ex-streetlord trying to make ends meet to a wizard. Then, Raisa who went from princess, to a runaway princess masquerading as a soldier cadet.

The characters, Han and Raisa were so much better in the second than they were in the first. I credit this to the fact that this book being the second needed less world building which allotted a ton of room for character development. In the first book I wasn't a HUGE fan of Raisa, but I adored Han straight off the bat. I still loved Han here, but I grew much more fonder of Raisa. She's my tiny, kickass princess who will defend the little people even when she should be more concerned with preserving her own life. She also was away from her lavish life in the kingdom to surviving is soldier school while dodging assassins so that allowed for a lot of room for her to evolve.

“You touch me again, you arrogant Ardenine swine, and I swear on the blood of Hanalea the warrior, I will geld you. Do you understand?”

Yeah, you show him my wolf heir princess, kick his ass c':

Fire Dancer, who is Han's best brofriend was relevant here but sadly not as much as I would have hoped. I really hope we get a far more fleshed out plot for this boy because I feel like he has a lot to offer but we haven't been able to explore it just yet. But if not, that's okay. I can deal. He's still interesting from afar. Amon, whom is Raisa's bestie and guard is much more manly in this one. In the first I compared him to a baby giraffe. While my shipping of him and Raisa sizzled out, I still love their relationship and how much the two would do for eachother.

The setting was also so neat! It reminded me a bit of Harry Potter. The wizard school, although nowhere as cool as Hogwarts was pretty fun to experience from Han's POV. I loved that they weren't stuck in the dreadful Fellsmarch where nothing ever good happens to Han. Also, his arch nemesis - the Bayar twins are his classmates which adds a whole lotta drama and fighting amongst the newling wizards. Kind of like a Potter vs. Malfoy situation.. except deadlier ^^

Although the plot took a slight backseat in this one, I didn't mind. I'm reading the third now and it's back in full swing. Book two really focuses on the characters and growing them into wiser, more aware people. Which I adore because if I hate the characters, I'll quite often hate the books. And I think it's safe to say I've never had the pleasure of reading all to many books where I actually LOVE both characters. Ever read a multiple POV book and you get to that character you just can't stand and you'd rather skip it? Well there's not of that here.

Also I think I can declare that I ship Raisa and Han to the moon and back. That is all.


In Conclusion

The Exiled Queen was an amazing sequel which surpassed the first book by a mile stone. I can promise that this series is one of the few that get better with every book. The writing was fluid, and Chima just knows the right cords to strike and how to get your heart beating. If you're into a thrilling and epic YA fantasy with some brilliant and heartwarming characters then I implore you to start this series. This is one series I don't want to end. I know I'll never find anything quite like it ever again.

Kynndra is currently reading The Grey Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima, and fangirling the hell out over the Seven Realms series.


Ten Thousand Skies Above You

May contain spoilers for book one. See my review here.

Ten Thousand Skies Above You Firebird Book Two
Written by Claudia Gray
Time Travel, Romance
Published October 2015
432 Pages
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
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Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse, even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.
Marguerite is the ultimate traveller. With the aid of her scientific parents' discovery of inter dimension travel, she can visit worlds that exist alongside our own. With the use of her Firebird, Marguerite now finds herself back at home and declining the offers from the head of the Triad organisation, who is attempting to recruit Marguerite to work for Wyatt Conley himself. Wyatt has proven he cannot be trusted in any dimension, attempting to steal the research of her parents and responsible for holding her father hostage. So when Paul travels back through the dimensions to look for a cure for Theo, he is captured and his soul splintered into fragments hidden within four versions of himself in different dimensions... And Marguerite has no other option but to agree to Wyatt's terms.

Wyatt has set Marguerite to task, expecting her to resume the life of her other selves in order to destroy her parents work on the Firebird project. After each task is complete, then Wyatt will release the next set of coordinates in order to retrieve Paul's splinted soul. With Theo along for the ride, it soon becomes clear that ourselves in other dimensions may not be as connected as first thought when Marguerite is taken hostage.

As Marguerite begins to question her relationship with Paul, she returns to the dimension where it all began as the Grand Duchess Marguerite of Russia. But time isn't on her side and Marguerite will be faced with the ultimate decision... To live in the now or risk losing everything.

Kelly's thoughts

Ten Thousand Skies Above You picks up shortly where it's predecessor left off, with Marguerite now back in her own dimension and Theo suffering from the effects of Nightthief, a drug supplied by Wyatt to keep Theo's other self from being discovered in Marguerite's dimension. Paul is visiting the Multiverse, a magnitude of dimensions in which each of themselves already exist, leaping into their bodies in order to find a cure. But when Paul doesn't return and the Triad president himself is pressuring Marguerite to join his organisation, she soon realises that Wyatt Conley is once again holding her family to hostage.

Even though Paul seems to be the only love interest within the storyline, Theo has never been shy when it comes to flirting with Marguerite and when the two discover a dimension where Paul and Marguerite aren't together gives Theo further incentive. Even with Paul never far from her thoughts, I enjoyed that the romance wasn't the main focus of the storyline but rather the adventure of multiverse travel. Flashbacks of Marguerite's relationship with Paul while she searches for fragments of his soul, allows readers to see the bond that formed between the two after the final page of A Thousand Pieces of You. The biggest difference that sets the Firebird series apart from other time travel young adult is it's ability to simplify. There's no long and complicated explanations to confuse readers, but information scattered throughout and making it easier for readers to immerse themselves within the storyline.

It follows a similar storyline as it's predecessor, where most of Marguerite's time is spent with Theo. I loved the dynamic between the two. Even though Theo obviously cares for Marguerite far more than he's willing to admit, it's clear that neither will betray Paul with both characters making it clear that they value their friendship far more and thankfully didn't fall victim to the dreaded love triangle. Incredibly written and although it took me a few chapters to jump back into Marguerite's world, I couldn't seem to put it down.

The final verdict

Wonderfully written, Ten Thousand Skies Above You is a brilliant and adventurous installment in the Firebird series. Shifting the focus from a mild science fiction romance, Claudia Gray has crafted an intense and deeply engaging series that is sure to end in an epic finale to enthrall readers. Absolutely loved it.

Kelly is an Aussie who's love of chocolate milk is only surpassed by her love for Alice in Wonderland. She is currently on a semi hiatus.


The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King
Seven Realms: Book One
Written by Cinda Williams Chima
Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic
Published October 6th 2009 by Disney Hyperion
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Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

Han is a sixteen year old boy who lives the life of an ex-streetlord. Going from a life of pinching purses and being one of the top gang leaders of Fellsmarch to a boy who tries to earn an honest living is not easy. Trouble finds Han in more ways than one. His life goes from bad to worse when he and his friend Fire Dancer confiscate a wicked amulet from a group of wizards. Unfortunately for Han, he has taken a valuable possession belonging to the High Wizard - a wizard who will go above and beyond to get the Demon King amulet back.

On the other side of the spectrum is Raisa - princess heir and successor to the throne. Raisa is on a mission to become a better queen than that of her mother. Her adventure leads her into the bowels of Fellsmarch where she discovers just how poorly her people have been treated and ignored by her mother. She means to change that. However, her mother and the High Wizard have different plans for Raisa and will do whatever they can to see to it that Raisa bends to their will.

kynndra's thoughts

After the fanboying of one of my good friends, I decided to embark on this relatively unknown series. Not many on my Goodreads friends list have read this yet so I'm kind of happy to introduce it to you if you haven't heard of the Seven Realm series before. Anyway, I was so so happy with this one. For a semi large book (500+) pages I think I read it pretty damn quick. Not only because I'm trying to catch up to my friend, but because it's told in two compelling POV's. Usually I detest multiple POV's - hate them really. Anything more than three characters is frustrating for me. Thankfully The Demon King was only two, two I can handle happily. So I guess that's where I'll start!

The story begins with Han. It didn't take me long to love Han's character - and for once it was more like a friend love than a swoon love. Which is remarkably refreshing. Han, throughout the novel got his ass handed to him more than one, so I can't help but pity the poor lad. Everywhere he turns, someone is out to seriously main or kill him. He just can't seem to catch a break. Both for his old reputation of being one of the top dogs of Fellsmarch and for his altercation with the Demon King amulet. Out of the two POV's, Han's was certainly the better in my opinion. Not only was his story far more intriguing but he as a person was more relatable.

>>>>> Where there is Han, there is also his sidekick/basically adopted bro, Fire Dancer. Dancer is also a semi-important character. There wasn't much of him in this one until the end, but he's going to be really prominent in book two (from what I've read of that). I look forward to indulging in that arc.

Our second MC is Raisa. Her story is far different than Han's. She is the princess heir, therefore her life if not controlled by the rugged streets, but by her lavish kingdom and her overbearing mother. I actually kind of hated Raisa to begin with. She felt like an annoying child who couldn't see the bigger picture. She was selfish and cared more about the next boy she'd be making out with in the shadows. But I think that was the point. Character growth right? Well eventually, after a certain event, I grew far more fond of the sassy princess and she grew up to be a kickass take-no-shit kinda girl.

>>>>> Much like Han, Raisa also has a partner in crime. That being her best friend Amon - son of the Captain of the Queen's Guard. Now Amon is where my personal swoon factor came in. He reminded me of an awkward baby giraffe. Tall, sweet and trying to find his feet in Raisa's life. He's also really protective of Raisa and would basically kick anyones ass who dared hurt his princess. PS: I think I ship this, yet to be discovered.

On to the plot. Usually I'm very particular on fantasy plots. Some plots make me sigh because they are just so darn predictable. This one may of been predictable in a few aspects but overall I had quite a few "WHAT THE FUCK" moments which is good enough for me in what has become of this generic YA world we live in today. I feel obligated to add that The Demon King is very info-dumpy. But it's a fantasy series so lets be honest, it's to be expected. But at least it's interesting as hell! I was actually looking forward to my annual history lesson of the Seven Realms.

“History," Mari muttered, as if she'd overheard his thoughts. "Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?"

"So hopefully we get smarter and don't make the same mistakes again.”

The plot twists were really dark and also added a huge flare to the characters lives. I think it's important to say that The Demon King is just the introduction to a much larger story. It takes baby steps, but by the time you hit the last few chapters you're on a full sprint. I can tell that the next three books will be a thrill ride. The writing was simple and lovely at the same time. Chima was able to make everyone of her characters into an individual, which is no easy feat. Plus you actually come to care about everyone involved. Every bit of the story was necessary. I don't know why more people haven't read this! Feel free to come to me when you reach the end and get kicked in the feels a dozen times over c': please come cry to me, I will cry with you.

in conclusion

The Demon King was an adventure through and through. Whether you're reading from the prospective of a ragtag teenage streetlord or that of a strong willed princess you're bound to have a good time. Chima's writing is hooking and downright entertaining. With an intricate plot and delightful characters the story comes to life and plays like a movie in your head. I'll be marathoning the entire series, (wish me luck - they are long as heck) so keep your eye out for the rest of the reviews to come within the month. Go read this hidden gem guys!

Kynndra is currently reading The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima, and lowkey fretting about the future.


Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Dangerous Lies
Written by Becca Fitzpatrick
Contemporary, Thriller, Romance
Expected Publication November 2015
400 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
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Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases, because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…
Stella never expected to land in a small town like Thunder Basin, where she's just been ripped from her former life after witnessing a brutal murder arriving home late one night. Her wealthy single mother feeds her drug addiction through her dealer, who Stella is now being protected from. With her new life in witness protection comes her new identity, a gruff retired police officer as her new foster mother, Stella has traded her uptown lifestyle for the dust bowl of a rural town where it proves difficult to keep a secret while praying Danny Balando's cartel can't find her.

Carmina or Gran as she's known in Thunder Basin, vows to keep Stella safe which seemingly includes keeping her distance from the boy next door Chet, handsome, strong and a boy who represents all that Thunder Basin is. Keeping her identity a secret, it isn't long before Chet and Stella form a tentative friendship, with her boyfriend in Reed never too far from her thoughts. Through Chet, the small town takes Stella into their fold and finally gives the almost eighteen year old a sense of home and familiarity. All apart from the wealthy and golden boy in town Trigger McClure. Trigger likes his girls demure and has a history of violence that the town turn a blind eye to and now he has his sights set on Stella, determined to find out who she really is.

Stella is in danger of not wanting to leave the rural community, of finally finding a place where she belongs and in danger of being found. Perhaps it's not her new life in hiding that's based on lies...

Kelly's thoughts

Becca Fitzpatrick's second foray into the world of young adult thrillers was brilliant. It blends a wonderful contemporary romance with a heart pounding thriller that will no doubt earn the Hush Hush author a more mature audience. I loved it and it's by far her best release to date. Mixing a contemporary with a traditional thriller, the blend produces an engaging and enthralling read that will no doubt also lure readers in with it's slow burning romance and intense storyline that sways between young and new adult.

Stella's character has been placed into obscurity for her own safety against a man she's accused of murder. Her mother's drug dealer with underworld crime connections is seeking revenge against the girl who's story has put him behind bars. She's angry, not only at her deadbeat mother placing her in that position but being forced to leave behind her comfortable life and boyfriend Reed. So when she's placed into witness protection with a gruff former police officer in a dust bowl of a tiny town, she's counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can escape.

But then she meets boy next door, the utterly charming Chet. Chet is not only raising his younger brother alone, but is still coping with the loss of his parents. He instantly forms an attraction to Stella's sassy attitude and the two form an easy but gentle friendship. I found the romance incredibly lovely and most surprisingly, relatively drama free. Being in witness protection, Stella can't reveal her true identity and although she's attracted to Chet, refuses to act on her feelings which is a refreshing change. She soon settles into life in Thunder Basin but being an outsider and not conforming to small town values, it isn't long before she catches the eye the town darling in Trigger. But Trigger isn't a love interest, far from it and his history of violence against the town's young female population may be notorious, but even authorities turn a blind eye. His vendetta against Stella becomes a dangerous situation not only due to his violent history but he knows that Stella isn't who she seems to be. It does touch on violence against women and may be a trigger for those who have been in a violent or abusive situation or relationship, so please be mindful that most readers will find Trigger's character confronting.

Stella undergoes an incredible transformation from wanting to escape Thunder Basin, to warming to the community and even her guardian in Carmina. Seeing their relationship bloom and the former police officer becoming the mother figure that Stella never had. Stella begins to realise she's fallen in love with her new life, but never becomes complacent. She's aware that her life is in danger, but ever allows that fear to overcome her or stop her from living.

The final verdict

Becca Fitzpatrick has finally found her niche, carving her very own genre with a blend of a contemporary thriller, with a slow burning romance and small town charm. From cover to cover, it delighted, enthralled and enchanted me. I loved it immensely.

Dangerous Lies Blog Tour Stop

As part of my tour stop for Becca Fitzpatrick's Dangerous Lies releasing tomorrow, I've decided to take photos from around my local area. Dangerous Lies is set in the small country town of Thunder Basin which could almost be just a stroll from my own doorstep. But living in rural Australia as apposed to Nebraska, both share a dry, arid heat where not only do the tough survive, but thrive.

Follow the next stop on the tour after release day over at Fangirl World

Kelly is on a semi hiatus, as she's got stuff going on. Remember to enter our International Lillytales bookmark giveaway here.


Guylight... That didn't go so well

Contains spoilers for the new Twilight Reimagined.

Life and Death Twilight Reimagined
Written by Stephenie Meyer
Paranormal, Vampires, Romance
Published October 6th 2015
442 Pages
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Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.

This edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.

Twilight has enraptured millions of readers since its first publication in 2005 and has become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a phenomenon that has had readers yearning for more.


So Kynn, we've both been subjected to Stephenie Meyer yet again with her new release of Life and Death, the reimagining of Twilight. Twilight was actually the book that brought me back to reading and also discovering young adult. I really enjoyed it at the time. Do remember reading Twilight and what did you expect from the new version being dubbed Guylight?


Yes, I do actually remember reading them, Kelly. It was in the 6th grade, my mom bought the first of the series - Twilight, that is. She let it sit and eventually I picked it up. I was instantly drawn into the story. I won't lie, I was completely enamoured by the book. I was a Team Edward girl myself. When I finished Twilight, I begged my mom to buy the remainder of the series, which she did. But those days are long behind me, and having discovered other YA, I lost my interest in Stephanie Meyer and the Twilight world. When you'd first told me about Guylight I was simply baffled. I thought the idea was ridiculous, and I expected just as much but I couldn't help my curiosity so of course I had to read it. Did you have high hopes for Guylight, having been a fan yourself Kelly?


I didn't hold out much hope to be honest. It's not that I thought the original was terrible, but I couldn't see any good coming from reimagining the storyline. It wasn't just the gender bending names such as Edythe and Jessamine, but the new male version of Bella might as well have had a vagina. His mannerisms and actions weren't changed from the original and it he was just too effeminate to be taken seriously. Bella was created to be the damsel in distress but Beau was in a league of his own.

He whined, complained and made Bella look likable even. His relationship with Edythe was bordering on obsession, especially with how she looked to be a picture of perfection when his description of her was a girl of skin and bones really. Even with Edythe supposedly in this position of power, she wasn't all that different from her role as Edward. The I want you, I'm bad for you, you can't have me really grated on my nerves. And where the fuck was Jacob and his shirtlessness?


The names were such shit. I hated them, every single one. Beau was in essence a carbon copy of Bella, I don't know what Meyer's was trying to achieve but lets be honest.. it just didn't work. I prefered Bella a hundred times over than whatever the hell that little weasel Beau was. I honestly can't recall where she-Jacob was in all this mess. I figure he was considered useless now that he can't imprint on Bella and Edwards child. I think the names was Jules.


I must admit, I skimmed a lot. A whole bloody lot. I know it's the tenth anniversary of her unleashing Twilight on the world, but I don't see the point either. If she really wanted to dazzle readers, where the bloody hell is Midnight Sun? It was little more than a money making exercise sadly. I was hoping that the storyline was going to be more empowering when reversing the roles, but apart from swapping around the character sexes, it was basically the same book.

I completely agree, I much preferred Bella as a character as well. Beau was a complete tosser. I think what drove many women to the series originally was the sexual tension between Bella and Edward, but this time around it felt even more creepy. I couldn't see the attraction between the two at all. I missed Alice and Jasper. I know they were thrown in there, but there was no sense of who they originally were either. The only change was the ending, so if you don't want to be spoiled, please stop reading here.


I thought the exact same thing, Kelly. I was a bit upset she wasted her time replacing the she's with he's when she could have finished Midnight Sun. Honestly, other than the end - it is essentially verbatim. No empowerment here. All we got is a creepy infatuation and some of the worst name swaps imaginable. I missed Alice and Jasper too, couldn't tell you who they were in the mess Guylight was. The ending was unbelievably off kilter. Bloody hell, I was wondering if it was a joke. Beau becomes a vampire... and watches his own damn funeral with the emotions of a hacky sack. How did you feel about this change of events?


I wished they'd just let him die. I would have cheered that alternative ending on. What originally took four books is now smushed into a few chapters? it was all a bit too TA DA, you're a vampire now. Go forth you sparkly bastard. It was so incredibly rushed and poorly written, even for Twilight. It was ridiculous and I'm pissed that I wasted my time reading it to be honest. What would you say to anyone wanting to read it?


It felt so damn rushed it was ridiculous! An unbelievable ending - even for Twilight. It just fell through. I too wish Beau would have died instead. It would have been far more intriguing. But instead we got the insta-happy, rainbow ending. Yuck. What would I say? Don't waste your bloody time. But if you really wanna read it, skip to the bit where Bella/Beau goes to the ballet studio - it's the only actual change in the book. Oh, AND DON'T WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS MONEY ON THIS. Go to a library or stand in the bookstore and just read the ending. Kelly, would you say that after this stunt you'll be closing the Twilight door for good? Or would you still pick up new releases by Meyers?


Nope, never again. I'm actually surprised I bought and tried reading it at all after the disaster that was The Host. I'd be even more surprised if she finished that series off as well. I know so many readers adore her, but for fucks sake lady, get your shit together and get over it. She stated more than two years ago that she was working on that sequel and gave the fans this Twilight reimagining instead. She's brave, I'll give her that but the woman just can't let shit go. She reminds me a lot of John Green who'll possibly bring out something new once his profits start drying up. I suspect it'll be the same deal with Stephenie Meyer.

So over to you guys. Have you read the new Twilight Reimagined? What would you have changed if you had the opportunity to rewrite Twilight?

The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver

The Shrunken Head The Curiosity House Book One
Written by Lauren Oliver & H.G. Chester
Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure
Published October 8th 2015
368 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Roll up! Roll up! Fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events brace yourselves for an adventure of a lifetime. Witness the freaks, wonders and oddities at the Dime Museum. Tread the path of the four extraordinary children who live there...

The book is about, among other things, the strongest boy in the world, a talking cockatoo, a faulty mind reader, a beautiful bearded lady and a nervous magician, an old museum, and a shrunken head.

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. Philippa is a powerful mentalist, Sam is the world's strongest boy, and Thomas can squeeze himself into a space no bigger than a bread box. The children live happily with museum owner Mr. Dumfrey, alongside other misfits. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events.

When the museum's Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.
In one of the last dime museums in the world, Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities and Wonders can now add the shrunken head of Chief Ticuna Piranha to the list of marvels, a treasure purchased from a dusty old antique store in the hope of bringing patrons back to the museum. But with the shrunken head supposedly comes a curse, made evident by an audience member found to have plunged to her death only hours after viewing the show. But she isn't the only one.

In a string of strange accidents, murders and foul play, it'll be left up to orphans Pippa, Sam, Thomas and new resident Max to follow the clues to find not only the stolen shrunken head, but the killer who is determined to frame Mister Dumfrey. Everywhere the amateur detectives turn, reporter Bill Evans is on the case with his sensationalised headlines and campaign to slander the museum at every opportunity. As the body count starts mounting and the threat of being placed into foster care, Pippa, Sam, Thomas and Max will need to find the stolen shrunken head and the killer before he strikes again.

Kelly's Thoughts

I haven't always had the best author reader relationship with Lauren Oliver. I enjoyed her Delirium series, but both Before I Fall and Panic were books that I had so many issues with. Her new foray into middle grade with The Curiosity House series is a complete success and I enjoyed every moment. There is something so utterly lovely about a well written and adventurous middle grade series and installment one, The Shrunken Head, shows exactly why the young and young at heart are enamored by the genre. It follow the story of three orphans in twelve year old Sam, Pippa and Thomas who are about to be joined by new resident Max. The four children have extraordinary abilities and are among the headline acts at Dumfrey's Dime Museum, but business hasn't been as prosperous of late and without the shrunken head, they will be forced to close.

The storyline although character driven, also features an old world charm to the New York location. Dime Museums were popular during the middle Nineteenth century as a form of entertainment for the working class. Most were little more than trickery in order to give patrons a cheap thrill, which also seems to be the case with Mister Dumfrey, with the exception of the four children of course. 

One of the main aspects that also draws me into reading middle grade are the illustrations. Whether it just be chapter pages or full page illustrations, it only adds to the magical reading experience and The Shrunken head was no different. The monochrome illustrations scattered throughout were absolutely lovely, I especially loved the imitation performer advertisement posters. So lovely and vintage.


Even being a longer middle grade read, the storyline is not only wonderfully written but well paced. A mixture of old world charm, mystery and cheekiness that middle grade and early young adult readers will be enchanted by. 

the final verdict

The Shrunken Head is a brilliant first installment in what will no doubt be an incredible new middle grade adventure series. Mixing old world charm and a motley crew of weird and wonderful characters, it's wonderfully written and the mystery will thrill and delight readers with it's sense of fun and lighthearted humour. Perfect for older middle grade or primary school readers and early young adult readers alike. I can't wait to for the next installment in The Curiosity House series. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kelly is currently reading Madame Tussaud's Apprentice and contemplating dying her hair bright red like a deranged rooster.


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