Tag Archives: UK

Grabby Paws: Witchrise by Victoria Lamb & Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

Today I have grabby paws for…

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Only one witch can rise above the coming storm …

When Tudor witch Meg Lytton receives an unexpected legacy – her mother’s magical wand, ring and spellbook – she has no idea her future happiness is in danger. For the witchfinder Marcus Dent is back in her dreams, and he will use any weapon to gain her newfound powers for himself.

Now Meg must discover the secret of Invictus, her mother’s magical ring. Summoned back to Hatfield, she knows a battle is coming. But Meg is no longer alone in her struggle against Dent. Surrounded by her friends, she faces her greatest challenge head-on: losing Alejandro, her beloved. For it seems the Spanish novice has been keeping secrets from them all.

Powers clash and hearts break in the spellbinding third book of The Tudor Witch Trilogy.

Why I have grabby paws…

So…two of my favorite things? The Tudor Era & witches. Now that the third book is out I can binge-read them all!

Releases September 30th

I also have grabby paws for…

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The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Why I have Grabby Paws…

All that need be said is this:

NUTCRACKER RETELLING!

But I’ll also add FAERIES and VICTORIAN!

Releases September 30th

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Grabby Paws: The Ring & The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

Today I have grabby paws for…

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Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve? 

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. 

But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard. 

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

Why I have grabby paws…

Alternate history. Magic. Royal intrigue. Arthurian elements. Forbidden love. Strong friendship. Basically a book written just for me. I need this now.

Releases April 1st


Grabby Paws: Witchfall by Victoria Lamb

Grabby Paws

“Grabby Paws” is my version of the Waiting on Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that I can’t wait to get my paws on. 🙂

Today I have grabby paws for…

Her darkest dreams are coming true…

In Tudor England, 1555, Meg Lytton has learned how powerful her magick gift can be. But danger surrounds her and her mistress, the outcast Princess Elizabeth. Nowhere is safe in the court of Elizabeth’s fanatical sister, Queen Mary. And as the Spanish Inquisition’s merciless priests slowly tighten their grip on the court, Meg’s very dreams are disturbed by the ever-vengeful witchfinder Marcus Dent.

Even as Meg tries to use her powers to find guidance, something evil arises, impervious to Meg’s spells and hungry to control England’s fate. As Meg desperately tries to keep her secret betrothed, the Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, out of harm’s way, caution wars with their forbidden desire. And with her most powerful enemy poised to strike, Meg’s only chance is a heartbreaking sacrifice.

Why I have grabby paws…

I haven’t read the first one yet, but I feel like this series was written just for me. Witches, Tudor England AND forbidden romance? Count me in.

Releases March 25th


Review: The Sea Inside by Vickie Johnstone

The Sea Inside

by Vickie Johnstone

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Cerulean Songs #1

Source: Won from author giveaway. Thank you!

Book Summary:

Book 1 in the Cerulean Songs series. Time is all we have; it flows – it cannot stop. Jayne wakes up in the hospital following a terrible accident to find herself paralysed below the waist. While struggling to recover, she is offered a gift that opens a portal to another world. To the girl’s astonishment, she finds herself on a journey, on both the physical and mental plane. It brings her to the mystical realm of Entyre, where life is very different and power lies with the creatures of the deep. Her adventures bring her face to face with a terrifying witch, a cheeky insect and the most beautiful of mystical creatures – a unicorn. While the threads of time keep flowing, Jayne must decide what is real, who to trust, and regain her inner strength in order to find herself and her true destiny.

Nickie Storey, author of the ‘Grimsley Hollow’ series: “A delicious brew of invention, enchantment and refreshing characters, Vickie Johnstone has a firm grasp on the fantasy genre. I can’t wait to read more of her work!”

Greta Burroughs, author of the ‘Wee People’ series: “Strange worlds, interesting characters, suspense and a surprise ending – what more can you ask for? This book has it all and more.”

Jennifer Thomas: “A gripping and fascinating mythical adventure that is beautifully described. There is suspense, fear and emotion throughout the entire novel that makes you want to keep turning the page.”

A big thank you to Maja Drazic for the beautiful cover photograph.

book thoughts

I was excited to read this book. The cover is gorgeous (I’d seen the image on deviantART before I even knew the book existed), I love fantasy and I know what it’s like to be paralyzed. So when I won a copy I read it as soon as it arrived.

The author completely nailed what it’s like to be in the hospital following a catastrophic injury. Jayne felt lost, alone, detached, confused. It was like I was reliving my own experience it was so accurate. Jayne is given  a chance to escape her tragic situation, to walk again and be whole, by a strange woman who gives her a crystal. The crystal transports Jayne to the underwater city of Entyre.

Jayne concentrated on getting better. The dark mood that she had found herself in grew steadily lighter and she pushed her memories of the blue city to the back of her mind, dismissing them as dreams, which would gradually fade with time.

That was her hope, for while she slept her mind wove images of the sea, accompanied by the echo of the whales and a tall man whose hair was the colour of the darkest waves.

He was always there, not far away it seemed, thus was the lucidity of her sleeping life.

The author employs a unique, highly effective narration strategy when switching between Jayne’s time in Entyre and in our own world. When in Entye, the story is told in first person, and when in our own world, it is told in third. To me, this reflects Jayne’s feelings that perhaps the injury has happened to someone else, and she is just a spectator. It also gives her added agency when her body and health are restored in Entyre. It reminded me of the switch between color and black-and-white in The Wizard of Oz.

Jayne falls in love and finds a new home in Entyre, and though the city is fascinating and described beautifully, I really needed more. When Jayne first arrives in Entyre, she is nearly killed by mysterious invisible creatures who live in the sand. We learn that there was a devastating war involving these creatures – but that’s it. We also don’t learn enough about how the crystal works or why, or what the connection between Entyre and our world is. I wanted more of the mythology of Entrye, more of how people lived there (though at least we did see some of that). I also would have appreciated more of a build-up of the romance. It wasn’t insta-love, but it was rather too subtle. I wanted to know what they liked about each other, what they did together. We never really get to see them together as a couple. They kiss once, then two weeks pass, then Jayne is yanked back into our world.

I did enjoy the kind of inverse of the traditional hero’s journey that occurs in the second half of the book. Instead of (let’s use The Wizard of Oz as an example again), the heroine spending all her time trying to get home to the regular world, Jayne discovers that Entyre is her true home, and must fight heroically to return to it.

How could I have doubted myself even once? It was never a dream.

This second half unfolds in decidedly Narnian fashion – things don’t necessarily make sense, but they keep you on your toes. I’m the type of reader who wants to know the reasons behind a flying unicorn, how it got there, why, etc., but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the flying unicorn at all. (Yes, there is actually a flying unicorn – also, at one point our heroine is carted off by actual plot bunnies). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t my preferred method of plot development. It was unique and interesting, but events felt like they came out of nowhere and I really wanted more structure.

The writing itself suffered from a few issues. First, I felt it was rather too formal for a modern British teen. It didn’t sound natural and made Jayne harder to connect with at times. There were also minor descriptive issues, such as Jayne repeatedly describing her own red hair flying in the wind, and the way she almost always had to “glance around” before she could describe something. It made Jayne’s narrative awkward at times.

I’ll give an example. First, I’m reading this scene, which leaves me breathless with its poignancy:

“You know they speak to one another.”

“The trees? No!”

“They do. If you listen, you can hear the rustling of the leaves. They open like hands, don’t you think? I imagine them as hands, but they speak. I am sure of it.”

But then I keep reading and on the next page it says:

“So, here I was in a forest of blue and it seemed normal and I was on an adventure.”

and then I’m frustrated because I wish she would describe something, anything else instead of repeatedly describing things that are obvious.

I did enjoy the ending. I liked the fact that a fall (Jayne’s accident) began the story, and she had to fall again to reach Entyre once more. The allusions to The Little Mermaid were brilliant. Once of my favorite aspects of the Hans Christian Anderson version is the pain the mermaid experienced in her feet when she tried to walk. This theme, and the parallels between mermaids and paralysis in general were beautifully done. The theme of time was also thoughtful and interesting. All in all, I enjoyed this book, and I just hope that the next installment goes deeper into the mythology of Entrye and explains things more clearly.

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