The Conjurer (by Luanne G. Smith)

Fantasy / Magical realism

Sidra was accused of murdering her husband and even though she is not guilty, his family are demanding her punishment. Hunted by Jamra, her husband’s brother, she must reunite with Elena and Yvette to defeat him and prove her innocence. 

But Jamra isn’t the only one pursuing her. A mysterious dog and the sorceror who mixed the poison that killed her husband all have their own agendas and it’s not clear whether they are friend or foe. 

This series started with a definite feel of magical realism but as it has progressed it has become more fantastical. And The Conjurer is the most fantastic of the three with flying carpets and magical jinni doing battle. Book one The Vine Witch had me hooked and honestly it’s probably still my favorite of the series but all three books are great.

I’m a little sad that the journey ends here but I look forward to seeing where this author takes us in the future.

Many thanks to 47North and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Dark & Otherworldly (by Kristen Brand)

Poison & Honey

Kristen Brand contacted me out of the blue and asked me if I’d be willing to read and review the first two novellas in the Dark & Otherworldly series. I accepted and jumped in even though I had no idea what I was jumping into. 

And honestly that’s one of the best things about these novellas. Things are not explained, you don’t really know what’s going on in Poison & Honey you just find yourself in a strange world and you need to work it out as you go along. 

I love that. 

And because I love that I’m not going to offer any insights into the story. Just that it’s original, well written and entertaining. And 5 Stars just because.

Sting of Thorns

The battle is over and Leigh has won, or is it? The second novella brings with it a new challenge. And enemies find themselves forming uneasy alliances.

These novellas are great, but I read a lot of great books. The thing that really set the first one apart was the lack of information. I was just dropped into the story and had to figure things out for my self. It never overwhelms you but it certainly keeps you on your toes.

And I hope Kristen Brand is able to keep surprising me as the series progresses because I’m in for the long haul. Great books.

Kill the Queen (by Jennifer Estep)


This book is Jennifer Estep at her most “Jennifer Estep-iest”.

An orphan with a rare type of magic does battle with an evil queen to save the kingdom and prevent a war. If that doesn’t sound familiar my question is, where have you been?

So yeah. It’s pretty much every Jennifer Estep book but I don’t think that’s a problem. Most of those books were pretty damned entertaining and Kill the Queen is up there with the best of them.

5 Stars because it’s great, minus 1 Star because it really is just like every other Jennifer Estep book.

Tower of Thorns (by Juliet Marillier)


Blackthorn has lost everything. All she has left is a small cottage on the edge of an enchanted forest, her companion Grim and a promise made to the Fae to never turn away someone who asks for her help. So when Lady Geiléis approaches the prince with a tale about an enchanted tower Blackthorn does everything she can to avoid being asked for help.

Then an old friend shows up, a friend from the time before, the time she was a different woman and she finds herself agreeing to help Lady Geiléis despite her misgivings. But as she travels north to the Tower of Thorns her misgivings turn into suspicions that all is not as it seems.

The only person she can trust –– the only person who can save her is Grim, but in order to complete the task she will need to push him away.

Tower of Thorns is in no way an easy book. It’s a great book but definitely not easy. The story builds slowly and requires a commitment from the reader, but for those who have the patience it’s all worth it. Blackthorn and Grim are at the top of my list of favorite fictional characters and I just love these books.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmMany thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Uprooted (by Naomi Novik)


Agnieszka lives in a small village in a valley at the very edge of the kingdom. Just beyond her home is the Wood, a malevolent and magical forest full of evil and magic. All that stands between the wood sweeping through her village is a cold and driven wizard known as the Dragon. For his services in battling the wood, every 10 years the village must offer up one girl who will act as his servant for the next 10 years and live with him in his tower.

Everyone knows that the next girl he will choose will be Kasia. She is both beautiful and a good cook. She has been preparing for the day the dragon will come and take her since she could talk. So when the dragon arrives and chooses Agnieszka –– clumsy, dirty, tree climbing Agnieszka, everyone is stunned, but before anyone can say a word she is whisked away to the tower to begin her new life.

The Dragon went to the village to find a servant. He wasn’t expecting to find a witch. But Agnieszka is no ordinary witch. She can read and cast spells that have been lost for many thousands of years. In her is both the power to destroy the kingdom and the power to save it.


I’m completely speechless. Uprooted is perfect. In every way. It finished perfectly but I still wanted (want) more. As soon as I read the last lines, I wanted to read the whole thing again. It’s that good.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Bruja (by Aileen Erin)

Young Adult (Vampires / Werewolves / Witches)

Despite escaping from her coven, Claudia remains blood-bound to Luciana, the coven’s leader. She, along with a small group of witches who left with her, has found sanctuary with the werewolves but Luciana can still invade her dreams and the blood-binding makes it possible for her to take Claudia’s power.

Desperate to break the binding, Claudia travels to Peru in search of a mysterious and possibly extinct group of white mages but she finds herself facing witches even more evil than Luciana.

I loved this book. The characters are wonderful and the story is great. It’s like Claudia reaches out of the book, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you through the pages. Honestly, I don’t give up sleep for very many books but I just couldn’t put this one down.

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Many thanks to Ink Monster & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC Yellow,

Orange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Dreamer’s Pool (by Juliet Marillier)


Blackthorn has been languishing in a dungeon after exposing the brutal crimes committed by her chieftain. While in prison she has lived for the day when she will be able to stand up and tell her story. But on the very eve of her day, she learns she is to be killed before she can talk.

A Fae visits her during the night and offers her a deal. He will help her escape but in return she must travel north to Dalriada, to use her powers as a healer only to help and she must never refuse a plea for help.

When one of her fellow prisoners, Grim joins her, she wants nothing to do with him, until she realises his following her is a plea from someone who is every bit as damaged as she. So Blackthorn and Grim travel north and settle into a derelict cottage on the edge of an enchanted forest.  Despite her obvious bitterness and anger, Blackthorn soon find herself helping the poor folk of the area with their ailments while Grim works odd jobs as a farm labourer.

But when the Prince of Dalriada asks for Blackthorn’s help, she struggles with her antipathy for men in general and especially men in positions of power.

Dreamer’s Pool is pretty good fantasy. I love the story. I love Blackthorn and Grim. I love the town’s folk.  I struggled with the multiple points of view. They really weren’t working. If it was just Grim and Blackthorn it might have worked, but having that third POV of Prince Oran made the story just a little unwieldy.  That said, I still enjoyed the book and look forward to seeing the series progress.

Oh. Just one more thing. The official synopsis for this book has a fairly major spoiler.  Someone at the publisher really needs a lesson in not giving stuff away.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmYellow, Orange, Red –– what it means:

The Source (by J.D. Horn)

Paranormal Fantasy

When Mercy came into her powers at the end of book one, The Line her almost normal life ended. Now she has gone from being the one with no powers who was routinely dismissed to being at the centre of a seething maelstrom of plots and counter-plots.

When her mother who she thought was dead shows up telling her to trust no-one she doesn’t know where to turn. Together with the one person whose motives she fully understands, Aunt Ginny, she tries to find the truth in a whole haystack of lies.



The Source is a much better book than The Line. It feels like a more well rounded book, the story feels stronger and all in all it’s more entertaining. It’s not perfect, it felt like it was wandering off in the wilderness in the middle section and there was really too much going on, but taking into account that this is the author’s second novel (the first being The Line) it’s quite an impressive effort.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (by Laini Taylor)

Young Adult / Fantasy

(this review may contain minor spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The Seraphim (angels) and the Chimaera (monsters) have battled for dominance in Eretz for more than 1000 years. After a forbidden love between Akiva (a Seraphim warrior) and Karou (a chimaera woman) is discovered, both are sentenced to death. But Akiva escapes and when his love is killed he embarks on a path of revenge. Using the knowledge he gained from Karou he sets into motion a plan which will finish the Chimaera forever.



Days of Blood and Starlight

The Chimaera have been destroyed. Their resurrectionist who was the only one who stood between them and defeat has been killed.

But what follows war isn’t peace but genocide. The Seraph set about killing the fleeing chimaera, defenceless civilians.  When Akiva discovers that Karou survived he is wracked with guilt over what he has done. With a small band of Misbegotten Seraph warriors he sets about righting a wrong and protecting the fleeing refugees.


Dreams of Gods and Monsters

The last of the Chimaera find themselves allied with a group of Seraph warriors, the Misbegotten.  But mistrust and enmity follow them with every step.  If they are to have any hope of standing against the Seraph armies arrayed against them they will need to learn to trust –– but 1000 years of mistrust is difficult to overcome.

Akiva and Karou also need to overcome the mistrust that has replaced their love because of what Akiva did. But they need to find that love if their audacious plane to defeat their enemies and usher in an age of peace is to succeed.

This series is difficult to review. I finished it well over a week ago and the words have simply eluded me.  Honestly this entire series is so beautiful that anything I say just won’t be enough.

I’m a bit of a collector of tattoos on Pinterest, and every now and then I see a tattoo that just makes me shake my head and think, ‘are people really that dumb’.  One which immediately springs to mind is the guy who was tattooed with an F-14 Tomcat with “Iceman” underneath…I just thought to myself ‘you idiot’.

Well, I was thinking to myself, if you are going to tattoo yourself with words, they might as well be beautiful words.  I’ve seen quite a few tattoos inspired by this series, mostly on women, and every time I just think to myself, ‘well done, that’s cool’.  And that’s about all there is to it, these books are so wonderful that they deserve to be tattooed onto people’s skin, so let me leave you with this.

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Yellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Carousel Sun (by Sharon Lee)

Fantasy (I think)

Kate Archer is the Guardian of Archer’s Beach, Maine and the areas around. She is able to communicate with the land, and where necessary can use magic to restore land that has long been neglected to life and vitality. 

Since returning to Archers Beach after a time away, the town’s fortunes are on the rise and with the tourist season upon them, town folk are for the first time in many years have hope for the future. But Joe Nemeier, a drug dealer who has set up shop in the town has sworn to destroy her and her family and he has enlisted the help of a fire elemental in his mission.  

Carousel Sun is quite an interesting book. It’s one of those rare books which doesn’t bring to mind any other book…totally unique. That said, I struggled with this book.  There is a lot going on in this book and the central story really didn’t kick in until I was half way through, and even then it didn’t really feel like the main game.  

The language of this book was difficult.  It is set in Maine and most of the dialogue is in that very unique New England brogue. Added to that, rather than using terms for her beings that I have encountered before (e.g. fae, witch, sprite), terms which work as a type of shorthand and can deliver all the information a reader needs without any explanation, she has done her own thing. So we have Tremway (something like fae I think) and the Land (who apart from being the earth appears to have the personality of a large shaggy dog).

Overall, despite feeling confused for a good portion of the book, it was oddly satisfying. That said, I would probably encourage those who might be interested to read book one first. I think a lot of the difficulty I had with this book would be fixed if I had read the first book.  

Many thanks to Baen Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.