Compare and Contrast: “Ella the Slayer”by A.W. Exley

"Ella The Slayer" b A.W. Exley

A review by Domoni. Read Maria’s take here!

In the early 20th century, the flu epidemic tore through England killing many. As the people try to recover from such a huge loss, a new plague comes in to wreak havoc on the people. Those who died are coming home. Much like the pest that many blamed for spreading the flu, their bites  are spreading this new plague. The country is overrun but their morals have many believing that killing these previously dead people will  send their souls into damnation. When Ella kills one, she opens the door to being the one damned soul in her village that can kill the vermin and save everyone else. Until the duke returns to his family lands to lead the war on the undead. Spoilers will appear in this review

I was excited to read this book. A reinterpretation of Cinderella with zombies, it was right up my ally. It was pretty clear within the first couple of chapters this book was like someone took Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and combined it with Ever After: A Cinderella Story.  Ella’s Mother died when she was young. Her father remarries a cruel woman only interested in money. He returns from the war in a near vegetative state leaving the stepmother to relegate Ella to a servants status. When Ella accidentally meets and nearly decapitates the Duke, she hides her real identity from him. Though of course it wouldn’t be much of a story if he didn’t pursue her. Fascinated by a woman willing to battle the undead he begins to attempt to court Ella. They bond over their love of fast cars and the ability to battle the vermin and eventually fall for each other.

Ella’s stepmother is of course scheming to have her eldest foul daughter marry the Duke and Ella must hide her forbidden love from her family. Typical cinderella shenanigans ensue and in the end, of course Ella gets her man. Then they must race to battle the Undead herd and its hive-like queen. After the battle ends, a dirty and resolved Ella returns home to evict her evil stepmother and finds her trying to murder her father. She defends him and in the process infects her stepmother with queen zombie toxic blood. This is where the story really lost me.  In what appears to be an attempt to lead into a sequel she lets her evil infected stepmother leave to go out and munch on random people and none of the soldiers or people who just eradicated the horde stop her.

I wanted to love this book but it had so many similarities to the two stories I mentioned above and quite a few moments that made you question the characters and the author herself that I am not sure it will bring me back for a second book. The first half of the book was great but the second half left me with a lingering disappointment.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review of “Girl of Myth and Legend” by Giselle Simlett

Review of "Girl of Myth and Legend” by Giselle Simlett A review by Amanda.

Leonie Woodville lives for her routine. She wakes up, walks to school, and tries to get by with as little social interaction as possible. It’s just been Leonie and her dad for a while now, having recently moved to Britain from Australia. Everything seems to be business as usual, until one morning when Leonie is surprised by chest pains so extreme that she thinks she’s dying. Instead, the heat and pain travel to her hands, melting the snow around her as her hands begin to glow. Unexpectedly, her father knows all about what’s happening to her. Leonie and her father are actually Chosen – members of a magical race from another realm called Duwyn. Mr. Woodville is a seer and he’s kept their history a secret in order to protect Leonie from a dark future. As soon as her power shows itself, the secret is out and Leonie finds herself in Duwyn, under heavy guard. She isn’t just Chosen. She’s a Pulsar; the strongest and rarest of the Chosen, and the first one to exist in two hundred years. Chosen rebels are determined to get their hands on her power, putting her life in danger. Leonie has to learn how to master her abilities as well as who she can trust.

Korren is a kytaen, elemental beings who bond with Chosen and act as protectors. Kytaen are treated as pets, at best, and are considered inferior to Chosen. Most Chosen think of kytaens as mindless beasts, despite the fact that kytaens have a secondary humanoid form and the ability to speak with humans. Korren hasn’t been linked to a Chosen in two hundred years. He’s been kept captive, as punishment for his actions that got the last Pulsar killed. Leonie’s kytaen must be the strongest and Korren fits the bill, although he is determined to hate her – after all, it’s her kind that has made his life so miserable. As determined as he is to treat her with nothing but cruelty, her ignorance about their world and the way kytaen are usually treated slowly begins to wear down his resolve. Is it possible for kytaen and Chosen to be equals?

Girl of Myth and Legend gripped me from the beginning. The writing had a poetic, romantic feel to it and the author jumped into the fantasy aspect almost immediately. The pace did slow down in the middle, I assume to give the reader the chance to learn more about the world of Duwyn. It also gave us the opportunity to get to know Korren and watch his interactions with Leonie as they got to know each other. The action definitely picked up towards the end and I was unable to put this book down until the very end. This is a fantasy adventure, with some political intrigue and family drama mixed in. Romantic relationships are essentially non-existent but hints for such in the future are there, and the story itself has an adventurous, heroic feel to it. More focus is placed on friendships, particularly between those who have reason to dislike and distrust each other. Fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy may enjoy this debut from Giselle Simlett.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

 A review by Hannah.

Growing up, Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating person Jacob knew. He had lived in an orphanage, fought in wars, performed in circuses, knew everything about guns, surviving in the wild, and spoke at least 3 languages that weren’t English. Jacob was raised on stories of his grandfather growing up with an invisible boy, a floating girl, a giant hawk that smokes a pipe and more. One day he let his grandfather know that he liked the fairy tales, but he was beginning to feel like he was being lied to. After that the stories stopped. Some years later a horrific family tragedy sends Jacob to his grandfather’s orphanage on a remote island in Wales. What he finds on that island will change everything.

This is a combination book/photo album. Sprinkled throughout the book are black and white vintage photos. The author began collecting loose vintage photos and was intrigued by the ones depicting children. They were often the most mysterious photos and he wanted to know the stories behind them. Sadly the photos were anonymous, so he made the stories up. He does this masterfully. Each photo enhances the story and concretely shows the reader what some of the characters look like.

I really liked this book. The storytelling is authentic, the characters are original, and the word “peculiar” is used! Peculiar is one of my favorite words. It’s not a forceful word like weird and it’s a more distinct word than odd. “Peculiar” has a very British feel to it, which lends a very proper air to the book, but it’s not so proper that it detracts from the tale of a teenager trying to piece together the mysteries of his grandfather.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I was very impatient to meet the peculiar children. There are only non-peculiar children and adults for the first third of the book. I am greatly looking forward to the sequel, Hollow City, and the movie they are making from this book.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR: Review: “Blackheath” by Gabriella Lepore

Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore

 A review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Gabriella Lepore for letting me be apart of her book tour for her gothic novel Blackheath.

Maggie Ellmes always seems to be burdened with bad luck, whether it’s missing her alarm clock or getting busted for tardiness and getting detention; it seems to follow her around. Bad boy Joel Tomlins both fascinates her as much as he repels her. At a carnival, Maggie finds out she doesn’t have just the odd case of bad luck, she’s actually cursed. She knows that there’s only one person with any hope of helping her: Joel.

I absolutely loved Maggie’s character. Her woe-is-me inner voice was hilarious, along with her sarcasm and wit. It was when she played a particularly brilliant prank on Joel to get out of detention that made me start to love her. She was smart, witty and not afraid to speak her mind to anyone or about anything.

Joel was harder to like and it wasn’t any fault of the writing of the character. His family dynamics were very bizarre and hard to keep track of. There were a whole host of brothers, a semi-present father, an absent mother, and scores of “possibly related” aunts in their family, aka a coven. So almost any scene with Joel featured a member of his family and I spent too much time trying to figure who it was rather than getting involved in the scene. Once I could separate him out in my mind from his brothers, his character started to grow on me. He was intelligent, brave, and selfless. He was fiercely protective of his brothers and his candor about his family dynamics was hilarious.

Blackheath was a very short and fast read. The strange family dynamics and the curse were the focus of this story but it was also supposed to be a romance. I never felt real chemistry between Joel and Maggie. They teased and tortured each other adorably, but I never really felt the characters fall in love.  It felt to fast and convenient to be real since they used to hate each other.
This book is appropriate for young adult readers and adult readers alike.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • $15 Amazon Gift Card
Book details:
Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore
Publication date: December 21st 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Ellmes is dogged by a case of chronic bad luck. She figures that’s just her lot in life—that is, until the psychic at Blackheath’s annual carnival reveals that Maggie’s problems are caused by more than just ordinary misfortune; she’s actually been cursed.

Desperate to shake the hex, Maggie has no choice but to seek out the help of Joel Tomlins, a rebellious classmate who’s descended from Blackheath’s most powerful line of witches. After breaking all of his coven’s conventions to help her, Joel discovers that the curse isn’t as bad as Maggie fears. In fact, it’s much, much worse.

Gabriella Lepore
Gabriella Lepore lives on the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. She began writing at an early age and grew up with a passion for all things supernatural—especially witches! She currently has six Young Adult books in print: Evanescent, The Blackheath Witches, How I Found You, Secrets In Phoenix, and The Witches of the Glass Castle books 1 & 2.
Author links:

Review: “Fire Touched” (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

 A review by Amanda.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to review the newest book in her Mercy Thompson series. This review may contain spoilers, but only from previous books in the series.

Our favorite coyote shapeshifter was in dire straits when we last saw her. Having just barely survived the volcano god, Guayota, Mercy has taken some much-needed time for rest and recuperation. Her precious shop has been destroyed, no one has heard from Tad or Zee since they were forced back to Fairy, and Adam’s ex-wife still hasn’t left for Oregon, but otherwise life in the Tri-Cities has been relatively mellow. When a troll – a destructive, not-too-bright, King-Kong sized fae creature – is set loose on a bridge in their territory, it’s business as usual. Except, the troll turns out to be the least of their worries. Someone has escaped from Underhill and the Gray Lords are willing to start a war with the human race to get him back.

Aiden appears to be a ten-year old boy, but he was trapped in Underhill for a long, long time. His time there has altered him irreversibly, giving him the power to conjure fire, as well as aging his mind, but not his body. Jealous of the power given to him and a few other children by Underhill, the fae have captured and tortured the others, ostensibly to find the source of their abilities. Aiden is the only one left. With the help of a few familiar faces, he has escaped from the fae and is seeking asylum with Mercy and the pack. Can Mercy and Adam help their allies and avert a devastating war at the same time?

After the chaos of the last book, this had a nice, light-hearted start to it. The humor and snark that we all know and love was back in full force. Mercy and Adam’s relationship continued to prove that art can imitate real life, and do it well, by shining a spotlight on the everyday cracks and insecurities that every couple experiences, but media rarely shows. They fight, they compromise, and they sometimes struggle to communicate. It’s refreshing to see some normalcy in the midst of all of the supernatural. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that there will be any less action and intrigue in this story! Mysteries abound, new characters will surprise you, and familiar faces create uncertainty. Fans of the series will not be disappointed; the ninth book pops and sizzles just as much as the first, and I expect the series to do so for as long as it continues.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Midnight Marked” by Chloe Neill

Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill

 A review by Maria.

I would like to thank the wonderful author Chloe Neill for allowing me to be apart of the blog tour for her new novel Midnight Marked, the 12th book in the Chicagoland Vampires series.

Midnight Marked is the 2nd to last book in a 13 book series featuring the vampires of Chicago. Merit was turned into a vampire against her will over a year ago; Master vampire, Ethan Sullivan, did it to save her life after she was attacked by a rogue vampire. She became the Sentinel, the warrior, for Ethan’s house of vampires, Cadogan House.  Slowly her hatred of Ethan turned into love. The book picked up where book 11 left off, with best friends Mallory and Catcher getting married and with Merit and Ethan still on the hunt for Adrian Reed.

This novel starts with a shifter being murdered by a vampire. Merit and Ethan must find the killer before a war breaks out between the two supernatural races. Incredibly, they discover that the murder has ties to an old enemy from the past, Reed. This time Reed has the aid of a powerful sorcerer and the old magic of alchemy on his side. Merit believes they might finally have a chance at Reed until she discovers he has the biggest card of all still left up his sleeve . . . her rogue attacker.  

Merit went from being an unremarkable college student in the beginning, and over the course of the series was turned into a warrior. This novel might have been her greatest character arc yet as she faced down the man who ended her life. She fights as hard as she loves and despite being immortal still cares for all the humans and supernaturals around her, and will fight for them even if it causes her life to end again.

Ethan is still very much the epitome of heroic perfection. He’s gone from being a stoic, gruff Master for hundreds of years to someone capable of loving. Through Merit, he’s found family, friends and supernatural alliances outside his own house. And even though her job, as Sentinel, is to protect him, they continue to adorably argue about who should be protecting who. Ethan may have learned to love, but he’s still navigating the bounds of personal space in his relationship with Merit. He makes a mistake that results in one of the most devastating fights they’ve ever had. Their fight might have been rough, but it also made their arc as romantic leads more believable and human. Since these two have very strong personalities, and are immortal, it’s likely that they would have some blowouts.

The enormous cast of memorable side characters all return in this book. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many favorites return and have them still fit into the flow of the story. The standout characters continue to be Catcher and Mallory. I’ve always felt like their relationship was a sign of what Ethan and Merit could have. Now that Catcher and Mallory are married it gives readers hope that a certain proposal could happen. The prophecy that Merit and Ethan will conceive the first vampire baby continued to be brought up in this book. When Mallory finally found out about it, her reaction made the wait totally worth it.

Like the other books in the series, Midnight Marked was very fast paced with plenty of magic, action, heroic battles, and life-altering choices. I did find that the part of the novel that introduced and discussed the workings behind alchemy dragged a little bit. I didn’t find that type of magic as interesting as other magics featured in the book.

This book is recommended for adult audiences. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Get your copy at one of these outlets:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Books-A-Million | Kobo | Indiebound

The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter the Midnight Marked Grand Prize Giveaway, which runs February 11 through March 4 on Chloe’s web site.

What is the Grand Prize Giveaway prize?

Review: “Evanescent” by Gabriella Lepore

rel=”nofollow”Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore

 A review by Maria.

I would like to thank author Gabriella Lepore for letting me read and review her novel, Evanescent.

A girl hunted to her death and a boy cursed to live forever. . . .

Evanescent is a gothic fairytale in the modern world.

Bronwen Snow’s grandmother tells her she’s being hunted and is in terrible danger. Her only hope is to seek out Felix Cavara’s help. Bronwen makes the dangerous trek to the castle on the hill looking for Felix. She not only encounters him and his childhood friend Loki and Alistair but also secrets, magic, and danger. Now Felix and Bronwen must figure out who or what is hunting her before it’s too late.

Bronwen was a personality who took longer to grow on me. She was very much a character of contradictions. She’s the damsel in distress looking for Felix to save her, but she can also take a step back and be firm with Felix and the boys. She spends much of the novel in the dark about pretty much everything but shows her intelligence by constantly trying to unravel the secrets around her. She has a wide character arc being somewhat meek in the beginning to strong, brave, and intelligent later in the book. I eventually began to enjoy her character immensely.

Felix was cocky, opinionated, and at times selfish and childlike. He was every inch the swoon-inducing hero this book needed. I loved his quick wit; and his comments often had me laughing out loud. He was brave, strong, and smart. He was also incredibly flawed by being egotistical. However, his character was what I most appreciated about this novel.

Felix feels a great deal of guilt for the curse that’s hung over Loki, Alistair and him for hundreds of years. They are cursed with immortality because Felix put his trust in the wrong witch, doomed to walk the earth with only each other as company. Felix feels the burden of this guilt and the responsibility of taking care of them both.

Loki and Alistair are Felix’s friends and have been cursed with him for so many years. Both are pleasantly adorable in their own ways. Loki is several years younger than Felix and Alistair and brings plenty of mirth and innocence to the page. He has a captivating youthful energy even after being alive for so long and only wants to be accepted and loved. Many times I felt like he was using Bronwen, Felix and Alistar as surrogate parents. Alistair was a completely loyal and wise character. He was always a presence in the novel but was a character of few words, which made him even more endearing whenever he did speak his mind. He was content to let Felix and Loki run amok in their exuberance and be the one who kept them grounded.

This novel was a short read. It was quickly paced but kept the excitement and intrigue rolling throughout. The danger was very real, mostly since much of the time it was unknown as to what, who, or why was something hunting Bronwen. The author threw some major surprises in, but tied up the book rather well.

Evanescent is appropriate for young adult, middle grade, and adult readers alike.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Evanescent Tour Banner


Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
Book details:
Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore
Published by: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Publication date: March 15th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

“Then it is settled,” Felix declared. “Come hell or high water, when this is all over, at least one of us here will not make it out alive.”

When Bronwen Snow is pulled from her cottage in the middle of the night, she finds herself seeking the help of three mysterious boys who reside in an abandoned castle deep in the hillside. With only a hasty handwritten note and a vague sense of dread to guide her, Bronwen is forced to put her trust in the eccentric and willful Felix Cavara and his eternal curse – immortality.

Gabriella Lepore lives on the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. She began writing at an early age and grew up with a passion for all things supernatural—especially witches! She currently has six Young Adult books in print: Evanescent, The Blackheath Witches, How I Found You, Secrets In Phoenix, and The Witches of the Glass Castle books 1 & 2.
Author links:

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