Everless (Untitled #1) by Sarah Holland

 SPOILER FREE REVIEW

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In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

(via Goodreads)

Sarah Holland’s ‘Everless’ is a fantasy novel set in a world where the aristocratic families feed on iron discs, or coins, which is time bled from the bodies of its residents. A subversion to the traditional vampire novels, the world building in the novel is really interesting. I wanted to know more about certain aspects of the world Holland has created. I hope she expands on it in book two.

I felt at times like I was reading a fantasy version of the Sci-Fi film ‘In Time‘ (the Justin Timberlake one).  With that said, I was thrilled it wasn’t too close to anything else on the market.
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Overall, an interesting read and I will be checking out book two. I hope it resolves some of the questions I have!!!!

3/5

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And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

 

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Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?

(via Goodreads)

 

I adored this book! It was creepy and unsettling. You questioned and questioned as you continued reading, and you wanted to press on to find out the answers. It was a slow reveal (which I love!) and the book used the fonts to create a dual story line.

This story reminded me of the gothic tales from the 18th and 19th centuries. It was visceral without too much gore. The narrator was equal parts unreliable and haunting. I enjoyed the constant wondering if she was telling the truth or she was going crazy.

My only criticism of this one was that the epilogue seemed anti-climatic or superfluous to the narrative.

4/5

Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins #1) by PL Travers

 

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From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. This classic series tells the story of the world’s most beloved nanny, who brings enchantment and excitement with her everywhere she goes. Featuring the charming original cover art by Mary Shepard, these new editions are sure to delight readers of all ages.

It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

(via Goodreads)

If all you know of Mary Poppins is the movie, you may be surprised. Mary is not the adorable and loving character we are used to seeing. She is gruff, curt, and goads the children. Jane and Michael Banks are joined by twins John and Barbara, so there are four children instead of two. Each chapter is a scene/event, and some aligned with the film. But I felt the chapters were just short stories about the children’s time with Mary.

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Mary keeps her magical abilities, and I really enjoyed the concept of the ‘Around the World’ compass. In the book, Mary talks to animals. They all seem to know exactly who she is. There is no origin story to Mary (except for the East Wind) though the Sparrow in the nursery does say she was a special person, who did not lose her ability to talk to animals and hear the wind. But that’s where it is left. I would have been very interested in knowing more. Maybe in the next books.

A series of eight books, the first closely resembles the film we are fond of. I wished there was more of Bert, the poor man only gets one chapter and Michael and Jane are absent from the trip into the painting. But it was still an interesting middle-grade read – and very quick! I will be checking out the others in the series.

4/5

 

 

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

23308087The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

(via Goodreads)

Despite its size, Flame in the Mist was a quick read. Mariko was an interesting character, but I found her to be quite naïve – to the point of distraction on some occasions. She is described in the book as being a careful study and knowledgeable, but I didn’t really see this play out in the novel. I felt Mariko to be a slightly ‘feminazi’ character in places, especially when she’s punching the soldier. It was just a little too much rage against men in general, rather than directing it to where it’s called for.

It was never really clear why they wanted her dead (to me). No spoilers, but there is an attack on her convoy and she is forced to go into hiding, to hunt for those that tried to kill her. But even when the perpetrators are revealed, there is no clear reason why. I wonder if book two will be a little clearer. There was some great supporting characters that live in the background, Prince Wu and the consort were a couple that I wanted to know more about. I hope they expand these characters in the next book.

SPOILERS BELOW

I had two problems with the book. The first, when Okami realises Mariko is a girl, why did he not wonder where she came from and put two and two together, and realise she was the princess that was attacked? It takes him ages! Also, when she falls out with the Black Clan and returns to the forest to find them, they just accept her without question. There was no bridge. She wasn’t there, and then she was. And it was just accepted.

END SPOILERS

Mariko’s brother was a little misguided. I felt like his chapters slowed the book down. He seemed to intend to find her, go out, not find her and then come home. I would have believed it more if he had gone on without the soldiers to find her. That would be a more believable character action of a brother. And as an aside, funny that Prince Raiden was this strong cute guy until the very end and then all of a sudden he’s a jerk?

Overall, it was a good read, and I am hopeful that book two will answer questions and bring these smaller characters into play.

3/5

Seeker (Seeker #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton

20911450The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she’ll be with the boy she loves–who’s also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.

Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

 

(via Goodreads)

This was such an interesting concept that was poorly executed. World building was minimal and the story line confusing. Throw in a predictable love triangle and you have ‘Seeker’.

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I couldn’t finish this book. I couldn’t even resort to skim reading to finish this before book club. And I’ve decided to no longer force a read if I am not liking something. Life is too short and there are so many books I want to read.

1/5

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Image result for the young elites book coverI am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

(via Goodreads)

I enjoyed this story. The world building reminded me of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy and Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorn and Roses. Adelina is a survivor of the blood fever that gave her powers yet disfigured her beyond repair. Since she was a small child, her father treated her with cruelty to try and bring forth her powers.

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Adelina is found by a group of powered people named ‘The Young Elites’ who are vying to overthrown the throne and liberate the survivors of the blood fever from being treated as second class citizens. But Adelina feels a darkness inside of her, she feels it growing daily, and wonders if she indeed is the monster they believe her to be.

Adelina’s arc reminds me of the Anakin Skywalker character arc (pre Darth Vader, obviously). It made me wonder if book two will see her becoming really dark. I was so keen to know more at the end of this book, I put a hold on the sequel at my library. I am looking forward to reading it.

If you like Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J Maas, you will like this story. I also recommend it to anyone who likes YA novels.

4/5

The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

18509623You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

(via Goodreads)

Rin Chupeco’s Girl From The Well is a much better read than I expected. Based on the original myth that inspired The Ring, GFTW meshes well with the contemporary story line, without becoming another sequel.

Having said that, it wasn’t as scary as I wanted it to be. I wanted to be completely creeped out at the very least, but it didn’t happen. I ended up being more interested in the old Japanese legend the Bancho Sarayashiki.

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One thing that really bugged me about this book was the lack of proofreading – the author said Narrabeen was in Sydney, and Sydney was in Queensland. We’re talking 850km from Queensland to Narrabeen and another 50km-ish from Narrabeen to Sydney. How is that not picked up by the editor? Really frustrating for us down under!

I really enjoyed the way the narrative dropped in and out of lines on the page when Okiku was speaking. And the recollection of falling down the well found the words dropping. That was very cool.

3.5/5