Small Favors is written by Erin A. Craig.
Ellerie Downing is waiting for something to happen. Life in isolated Amity Falls, surrounded by an impenetrable forest, has a predictable sameness. Her days are filled with tending to her family’s beehives, chasing after her sisters, and dreaming of bigger things while her twin, Samuel, is free to roam as he wishes.
Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far. When some townsfolk go missing on a trip to fetch supplies, a heavy unease settles over the Falls.
Strange activities begin to plague the town, and as the seasons change, it’s clear that something is terribly wrong. The creatures are real, and they’re offering to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand, for just a small favor. These seemingly trifling demands, however, hide sinister intentions. Soon Ellerie finds herself in a race against time to stop Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves from going up in flames.
I absolutely loved this retelling of Rumpelstitskin. It is definitely a dark retelling but still has positivity shining throughout the book. Amity Falls is your typical small town which relies on supply runs for some essentials. When things start going wrong, whispers of monsters with silver eyes go around the town. I could really imagine the town and the Downing’s land.
“Rule Number Seven: Enter not the forest deep. Beyond the Bells, the dark fiends keep.” Never has the rule been true this year. The way the book was broken into seasons which shows the passage of time. The Downings are a close knit family, but sometimes even the strongest bonds can break.
Ellerie really wants to help her family and when things go bad, her strength truly shows throughout the book. She is vibrant, resilient, smart, independent, tough and is much more mature than her twin brother Sam. I truly enjoyed Whitaker and his ability to weedle his way into Ellerie’s heart. I enjoyed their story arc and how their relationship changed.
The reveals and twists in this book was fantastic and I would love to read more about the journey Ellerie and Whitaker go on to find her parents. Craig did an amazing job and definitely will be reading again.
House of Eclipses is the first book in a new duology by Casey L Bond. Thank you to Lady Amber PR for the ARC copy.
Noor is the unwanted, unloved third born of the Aten, chosen vessel of the sun goddess, Sol. While she has no chance at inheriting her father’s title, what she truly longs for is peace from his unrelenting hatred. Hope builds that she may finally be able to claim that reprieve when a missive arrives from the House of the Moon.
The new Lumin, chosen of the moon god, Lumos, seeks to broker peace with the Kingdom of Helios for the first time in ages. He envisions open trade routes and an end to archaic rivalries. His dedication to this cause extends to visions of a union between the two families by marrying one of Aten’s daughters, if one of the matches is a fit.
Driven by his own twisted agenda, Noor’s father is willing to sacrifice his daughters as pawns to steal the crown for him to further his despotic reign. But Noor has other ideas. For whomever wears the crown of moonlight, holds the power of the moon itself. With such strength at her command, she could finally defeat her tyrannical father.
Yet this endeavor cannot be accomplished without great sacrifice. As Noor learns more about Lumin Caelum, guilt over her betrayal consumes her, burning hot as the sun itself. If only he wasn’t kind, and selfless, and exactly what she wanted. If only she had greater dominion over her heart…
Can Noor carry out her plan and end her father’s vile reign? Or will unlikely alliances allow a new day to dawn?
I absolutely love Casey’s novels and House of Eclipses definitely didn’t disappoint. The world building and setting allowed me to truly imagine Helios and Lumina with their differing temperatures, environment, culture and leaders who talk to the goddess Sol and god Lumos.
The main characters are all very different, but my favourites were Noor, Caelum, Vada and Beron. The Aten, Noor’s father, is a cruel man and I didn’t like how he treated others. The Sol priests were so kind and caring, Kiran- her friend and Saric- who guides and helps share the truth with Noor. Her sisters, Citali and Zarina, have their own agendas and hate Noor. Noor has the kindest heart and tries her best to help others as the people of Helios don’t have much food as the Aten hoards it.
You truly see Noor’s character at the House of Dusk as she treats everyone with respect and wants to learn more about Lumina while Citali is very rude. I loved her interactions with Caelum and the bonds she forms with Vada and Beron. The relationship that grows between Noor and Caelum was slow but it was great to see their shifting feelings and their enjoyment in the time they shared with each other. I loved the way they told each other their feelings. There were so many reveals and twists that surprised me but I loved how Caelum, Saric, Kiran, Beron and Vada all support her.
It wouldn’t be the House of Eclipses without Sol and Lumos. Their story and how Noor and Caelum have their power is bittersweet. I can’t wait for the next book and definitely will read again.
Unravel the Dusk is the last book in the Blood of Stars duology by Elizabeth Lim.
Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.
But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.
Unravel the Dusk is such a fantastic conclusion to the Blood of Stars duology. The twist ending from Spin the Dawn is now a main challenge for Maia as she battles to remain human as well as using the magical dresses to save the country she loves.
Instead of using her magic to create amazing dresses, she’s using her skills to fight at the war zone or against the empowering demon voices which are about to conquer her mind completely. She is tougher, more powerful, more exhausted, sad, depressed.
Epic war scenes were exciting, heart throbbing, nail biter, seat jumper kind of full with so many powerful action scenes so this book’s pace is faster. We already know all the characters. We know there is a big war not only between the emperors but also between the demons.
I was a bit sad we didn’t see Eden much this book but there was a fantastic reunion between him and Maia. Lim is such an amazing writer and I can’t wait to read Six Crimson Cranes.
Spin the Dawn is the first book in the Blood of Stars duology by Elizabeth Lim.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
Spin the Dawn blew me away. I absolutely loved Spin the Dawn and the inclusion of Eastern mythology. It was pitched as a project runway meets Mulan and has surpassed the pitch completely in my mind.
The world building was incredible and I immediately was in the world following Maia through her journey. I loved how expansive the world was but everything felt like the right distance between places.
The characters were interesting and complemented each other really well. I loved the interactions between Maia and Eden especially. All the other characters were lovely to meet and see Maia interact with them. I loved the inner strength of Maia to overcome the challenges that were thrown her way along with being female that didn’t stop her from stepping outside her comfort zone to protect her family. Eden is one of the sweetest characters I have met and I really enjoyed his interactions with Maia.
I’m really looking forward to reading Unravel the Dusk.
Lost in the Never Woods is written by Aiden Thomas. This is a stand alone novel by the author of Cemetery Boys.
Something sinister waits within the trees . . .
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into the light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road . . .
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, asks for Wendy’s help to rescue the missing kids. But, in order to find them, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.
Lost in the Never Woods takes place after the adventures of Peter Pan. However, things aren’t right in Neverland and new child earn are going missing, with everyone turning to Wendy for answers. It all started when John and Michael went missing and only she came out of the woods. It is a dark, mystery retelling of Peter Pan, which had me hooked on the plot points of the story. I truly wanted Wendy to find out the truth of what happened to John and Michael and for her to find her inner strength that was buried deep.
I would say that it is a slow to medium paced by the mystery keep me reading. The interaction between Wendy and Peter developed across the story as Wendy slowly remembered Peter. I really enjoyed the mirror to the original story as they try to catch and stop Peter’s shadow. The romance between Wendy and Peter is bittersweet and highlights the importance of savouring every memory and experience you can.
One quote that stood out to me is:
Shadows are made up of darkness. They feed off of sadness and despair. They manifest you’re most scared of and use it is a weapon to feed off your fear.Peter Pan to Wendy
The story while dark, was thought provoking and I truely enjoyed the book and will read again.
This month has been full of reading amazing books as well as starting back up completing my masters. I read a good amount of books along with completing a 24 hour reading challenge with other Aussie readers.
The books I read this month were:
I have reviews coming soon to my blog on the books I have read! So keep an eye out.
The Rose Daughter is the seventh book in the Supernatural series by Maria Lewis. I would like to thank Hachette Australia for the review copy.
She never meant to be a hero…
In fact, Dreckly Jones has made a point her whole life to be exactly not that. The daughter of a forbidden union between an earth elemental and a selkie, her rare powers have meant she has always had a target on her back.
So Dreckly – a 40-something oyster shucker according to her fake documents, 140-something sprite if you’re going to get all nit-picky about it – has become an expert at many things. Chief amongst them: hiding.
When she meets a determined group of rebels who desperately need her help, she finds herself wanting to stick her neck out for the first time in a long while. Yet is she ready to be noticed? Is Dreckly willing to use her powers to stand up when it could cost her everything?
The Roe Daughter is an urban fantasy novel and I love the world that Maria has created and the characters that live within the world.
I liked the world in which the story is set with an interesting mix of supernaturals who live alongside, but hidden, from most of humanity. Lewis succinctly explains the history and politics, and while it’s obvious there are links to story and characters from previous books, they don’t have any notable impact on this story.
I’m definitely intrigued to read the other books in the Supernatural Sisters world.
Realm Breaker is the first book in a new series by Victoria Aveyard. I would like to thank Hachette Australia for the review copy.
A strange darkness grows in Allward.
Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.
She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:
A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.
Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.
I haven’t read Aveyard’s Red Queen series which I will definitely will be reading soon but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Realm Breaker.
The world is beautifully created and the characters are wonderfully thought out.
There is POV changes every chapter, allowing you to follow different people throughout the book, seeing how everything is influenced and how each character plays a part in the overall story. If you aren’t one for multiple POVs, be aware that there is 6 POVs that you will be switching between.
The characters are all amazing but I really enjoyed following Corayne, the chosen one for saving everyone. I liked how she dreamed of doing more and accepting although unwilling at first to held save the realm. I did like all the characters though.
I loved the ending but I can’t wait for the next book to come out.
Overall, I really enjoyed Realm Breaker and look forward to continuing this series as well as reading Red Queen.
She Who Became the Sun is the Radiant Empire series by Shelley Parker-Chan. I would like to thank Pan Macmillian Australia for the review copy.
To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything.
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
She Who Became the Sun is a Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.
It is a history fiction with fantasy aspects in a time period I haven’t read before so I enjoyed diving into the unknown.
The way in which we are introduced to all the characters and see how each one impacts the story was beautifully told.
I loved the characters and the relationships they have. Zhou Chongba was such an strong character who did everything she could to live. Her story arc was incredible.
I’m looking forward to the next book.
For the Wolf is the first book in the Wilderwood series by Hannah Whitten.
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole
For the Wolf is a dark fantasy novel that is medium paced which draws on elements from multiple fairy tales- Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White. I was captivated by the premise from the start and the writing is descriptive, making the story extremely atmospheric. I could imagine all of the locations and characters. There are strong family themes which was highlighted by the sisters and their unconditional love for each other. Other themes include include love and sacrifice which was perfectly balanced.
Red is the type of protagonist I love- brave, determined, strong, love of reading and a caring individual who wants to do what’s right. Eammon is such a great partner for Red. There was the perfect amount of romance with a super-slow and natural build between Red and Eammon.
Throughout the book we also see what’s happenings with Neve and how she never gives up on getting Red back, which leads to such an interesting plot twist. When see what was happening with Neve, you were able to see how it affected the Wilderwood and the truth of what happened in the past is revealed.
Whitten pulls you into this world of danger and romance and doesn’t let you go. After the cliffhanger, I can’t wait for the next book.