COVER REVEAL | Midnight (The Romany Outcasts #3) by Christi J. Whitney

About this time last year I was showing you the marvellous new cover for SHADOW (Book 2 in the Romany Outcasts series) by Christi J. Whitney, and I’m thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for the final book in this YA urban fantasy trilogy, MIDNIGHT, which will be released on 25th May 2017. Continue reading “COVER REVEAL | Midnight (The Romany Outcasts #3) by Christi J. Whitney”

June Wrap-Up | 2016

I’ve reached the point where I’m going to stop apologising for the amount of books I have read in the month. Yes, it’s only three books again (well, technically only two because one was finished in May) and no, I don’t really have any excuses other than “life was busy” – but then isn’t it always!?

So remember in my May Wrap-up when I said that I knew I wouldn’t finish another book by the end of that month, so I posted it quite early? Well, guess who actually did finish another book!

13329693_1231332083544201_808825981_nShadow (The Romany Outcasts #2) by Christi J. Whitney
Rating: 5/5
Review
This was the sequel to Grey, which I absolutely loved, and was EVEN BETTER! I’m so excited for the third book! This is such a cool series with gargoyles and gypsies and curses and friendship and love and it’s brilliant! If you like YA urban fantasy, do yourself a favour and try this series!

 

 

Anyway, here’s what I managed to read this month…

13510637_1246700252007384_1995129252_nFinding the Phoenix (The Celestial Talisman #1) by Caitlin O’Connor
Rating: 4/5
Review
The first book in an adult urban fantasy series; Finding the Phoenix was very different and unique. The characters were my favourite part, all with interesting and compelling backstories and flaws. I really do love flawed characters! I feel like this series is heading to an epic ending and I’m looking forward to seeing where it will go.

 

 

13566170_1250506078293468_1135200277_nGifted (The Hayven Series #1) by J. A. George
Rating: 4/5
Review
Wait…another urban fantasy series!!?? I thought I didn’t even really like urban fantasy all that much until this month! And this series was especially interesting, because the main character is a British, 19 year old, university student (AKA me!). At times it made me think a little of the Archived, in some of its storyline and some of the characters (I mean this in a very good way!). The world was probably my favourite thing, and I’m intrigued to read more about it!

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That’s my, slightly late, June wrap-up! I would add my usual ‘next month I’m gonna read so much more’ line, but actually I’m so busy at the moment that I probably won’t!

What did you read this month? Any favourites?

COVER REVEAL + EXCERPT | Scar (Celestial Talisman Book Two) by Caitlin O’Connor

I’m super excited to be be participating in the cover reveal for Scar (Celestial Talisman Book Two) by Caitlin O’Connor, set to be released on 22nd July!

Read my review of Finding the Phoenix (Book 1 in this series) HERE!  


About the Book:

Secrets surface when a traitor returns

The scar on Vinny’s wrist is nothing compared to the scars on her psyche. She isn’t a hero, she isn’t even a good person, and when a skirmish with one of the Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga ends badly, she knows it’s partly her fault.

Nobody in the Circle could’ve guessed at the truths that attack would uncover.

One woman has sacrificed everything to end the war between Handmaidens and Awakened. Now, she’s prepared to damn everyone for her freedom. One final betrayal is all it will take to change our world forever.

Scar is the second instalment in the Celestial Talisman sequence, an adult Urban Fantasy series featuring dark, psychological themes. If you like multifaceted, compelling characters and unusual settings then this novel is sure to thrill you.


About the Author:

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Caitlin O’Connor is a fantasy writer who searches for truth in fiction. She loves messy, complicated characters who blur the lines between Good and Evil.

A proud eccentric who aspires to be omniscient, she enjoys listening to music, trying to understand physics, and admiring unusual works of art.

She lives in the central region of South Africa with her son.

 

Keep in touch with Caitlin O’Connor on her website: Inspired Chaos

Follow Caitlin O’Connor on Goodreads

Follow Cailtin O’Connor on Amazon

Caitlin O’Connor on Social Media:

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The Cover…

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Scar Excerpt:

The wings faded and they tumbled to the ground. Vinny twisted away from Blake. Sharp pains lanced through her hip and elbow on impact. Blake cried out, and Vinny scrambled to her feet.

“Blake.” She put a hand on his back. “Blake! Say something.”

He groaned and pushed up on his left arm. She put her arms around him, helped him to his feet, and shifted her body under his shoulder.

“Let’s go,” she urged as she pulled him along.

“Leave me,” he groaned. “I’m slowing you down.”

She didn’t bother to answer, just kept going. Blake had made her study a map of Denysrus, and all the places where she could summon the Sages in an emergency, like this one. She remembered being confused by the names, and the sound of his voice explaining that Arta Togarm was the singular name, and Artana Garm the plural form. A diagram of the city shuffled itself around in her mind’s eye, locations she wasn’t sure of moving around those she was. There was an Arta Togarm nearby, on Steyn Street. Adnes could heal him when they got there, but she had to hurry. If the Handmaiden survived the fire then she’d call in back up.

The alley opened into a street. Vinny kept close to the shadows of the buildings as she walked up it. Her shoulder was throbbing, gnawing pain. She had to stop, but not in the open. There was always the chance they’d run into some cops looking to round up druggies and drunks heading home from the nightclubs, and she couldn’t afford a run in with the Pigs. If the drunks and druggies bugged her, she could fight, but she didn’t have a cent on her to bribe the police.

She dragged Blake across the road and through the overgrown bushes and trees growing alongside a small theatre. Branches scratched at her face and arms.

Vinny collapsed back against the wall with Blake and panted for breath. Her legs trembled. If only the strange rush of strength she’d felt in the alley had lasted a little longer. She peered through the tangled branches. There was no sign of the Handmaiden, or anyone else, so she turned her attention to her Guardian.

It was too dark to see much of anything so she traced her fingers across his chest to find his injured arm.

“Don’t,” Blake growled as her fingertips made contact with something warm and sticky. Blood, lots of it.

“Suck it up man, we can’t leave a trail to Adnes.” She had to stop the bleeding somehow.

Vinny wiped her hand on her pants and tried to stay calm, ignoring the queasiness in her stomach as the rich, metallic smell invaded her nostrils. She had to focus. There wasn’t time for fear and anxiety.

Blake was always sensible, stable, and reasonable. Things she wasn’t. She didn’t know how to handle this situation like he would. Part of her wanted to just hide away, like all of this would vanish if she could find a small enough space to crawl into.

But Blake would die.

With shaking fingers, she removed the belt on her cargo pants, looped it around his shoulder, and pulled it tight under his armpit. Blake let out a strangled cry, but she ignored him and knotted the belt as securely as she could.

“Stop wasting time on me, Vinny, you need to get to safety. I can’t protect you like this.”

“Don’t be a dumbass, Blake, I’m not leaving you.”

Self-control. She’d spent years perfecting it under a sadist’s thumb and she called on it now, forcing herself to think. It didn’t look like they’d been followed, that was the most critical worry, but she had to get Blake to the Sages. She wasn’t strong enough to carry him and she cursed herself for not spending more time training as she ducked her shoulders beneath his uninjured arm and prepared to move off again.

“Come on, it isn’t much farther.”

“No,” he groaned. “Call Al.”

The image of a man with dark hair, a stubble-lined jaw, and brown eyes leapt to her mind. With it came memories of soft lips, the sandalwood and musk scent of his skin, and the sting of betrayal and harsh truths.

She did not want to call Alistair, but this was an emergency. Without further hesitation, she pulled her phone from her pocket, found his number, and pressed ‘call’.

“Vinny? Hey…”

“I need your help,” she interrupted him. “Blake is badly hurt, we’re in the bushes surrounding the theatre in town.”

“What happened?” he asked. She heard a door bang.

“Handmaiden. I don’t know if her dog got him or the Skaath but he’s bleeding.”

“Apply pressure to the wound, I’m on my way.”

He hung up and she shoved the phone back in her pocket. Apply pressure to the wound with what?

“I need your knife,” she said to Blake as she reached for his belt.

“Al’s coming?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Vinny pulled the blade free from his hip sheath and hacked at the bottom half of her shirt.

“I have to apply pressure to your wound,” she said.

Blake didn’t reply. She reached for his arm and held her breath as she probed for the wound.

Blake grunted. “Higher up,” he groaned.

Vinny gritted her teeth as he guided her hand towards his wound. He let out a weird, strangled cry as she pressed the wad of cloth against it. She turned her face to press her nose and mouth against her arm, hoping to block out some of the smell of his blood. It would help if she had something else to focus on, an intricate pattern or repetitive movement.

“One and one is two,” she muttered against her arm. “Two and one is three, three and two is five, five and three is eight, eight and five is thirteen…”

“Are you reciting a Fibonacci sequence?”

“I’m playing a game with myself to distract me from the smell of your blood, don’t make me lose count.”

“Eight and five is thirteen,” he replied.

“Thirteen and eight is twenty one,” she continued.

“I’m sorry; I forgot you don’t like blood.”

“And you got hurt on purpose, did you? It’s not your fault so don’t apologise.”

Somewhere nearby a car’s hooter honked out three short blasts, followed by one long.

“That’s Al,” Blake mumbled.

“Hold the cloth; I’ll signal him at the road.”

 

BOOK REVIEW | Gifted (The Hayven Series #1) by J. A. George

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Title: Gifted (The Hayven Series #1)

Author: J. A. George

Genre: Fantasy/Contemporary

Published: 13th April 2016

Format: Paperback

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star

 

 

“Never interrupt someone who is reading because they’re no longer in your world.”


Goodreads Synopsis:

There is no chosen one in this story.

Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day.

Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved.

Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter.

But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her.

However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love.

Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.

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Thank you to the author for sending me a free copy of Gifted, in exchange for an honest review!

I loved this book!

The main thing that gripped me from the beginning, and stuck with me throughout, was how this is not a story about a chosen one. It’s not about a particularly special person, with any specific predisposition of heroic tendencies; but of a girl who was in a specific place at a certain time. It is about the decisions we make, and how it is these that determine the course of out lives.

Ava’s character was very real. I think I could relate to her a lot as a 19 year old University student in England (just like her), but I think many can relate to her insecurities, self-esteem, worries and struggles. I found I was able to connect with her in so many ways, and connecting to the main character makes reading a story so much more enjoyable.

I loved that friendship was such a big aspect of this story. I read plenty of romance-driven YA fantasy, and it was nice to read a book about friendship first. There are so many side characters in Ava’s friendship groups, and all had such distinct and interesting personalities. They all had their own story, but also had a connected story too. I loved learning about these characters, and I have a feeling we will learn a lot more in the coming sequels.

The writing is so lovingly crafted in this book too. At times, the description is almost poetic…

“The breeze was soft and warm on my skin and the rustle of tree branches swaying and their leaves kissing, melodious.”

And the world of Hayven was so magical and wonderful. I found myself longing to be there! I have definitely recently been enjoying urban fantasy a lot more – with the idea of an unknown world within our own. I’m intrigued to see whether there is any more of a connection between the world of Hayven and the normal world in this story.

I felt that we didn’t quite see enough of the villain in this book for me to form enough of an opinion on her, but I am sure she will make a bigger appearance in the next books. She sounds pretty creepy, so I’m very intrigued to see more of her!

Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, with some great characters and wonderful writing, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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BOOK REVIEW | Finding the Phoenix by Caitlin O’Connor

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Title: Finding the Phoenix (Celestial Talisman Book One)

Author: Caitlin O’Connor

Genre: Fantasy

Published: 12th April 2016

Format: ebook

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star

 

 

“It takes great courage to open your heart to the world when it seems to do such little good, but you cannot let pain and fear dictate you. People will always hurt each other, but it doesn’t mean they do it intentionally, or that they cannot redeem themselves afterwards.”


Goodreads Synopsis:

Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.

But the Circle isn’t the haven she thought it might be. The fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga are gathering strength and only the Awakened can keep the shadow creatures at bay. When one of the Guardians is killed, ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the Circle’s quest for justice. She’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for the people she’s come to care about.

Finding the Phoenix is the first instalment in the Celestial Talisman sequence, an adult Urban Fantasy series featuring dark, psychological themes. If you like multifaceted, compelling characters and unusual settings then this novel is sure to thrill you.

(Please note that this book contains strong language)

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Firstly, thank you very much to the author for sending me an ebook copy of Finding the Phoenix in exchange for an honest review!

A Morgue rescue, a celestial battle within our own world, and a haven for those Awakened with powers to fight in it – Finding the Phoenix is an epic fantasy full of action, tension and emotion!

After dying, and re-awakening, Heaven is thrown into a new world, learning to become the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. Mentally disturbed and physically abused, Heaven faces scars not just of the physical kind, and the author does a very good job of bringing up some very sensitive and serious issues, and portraying them well. This book does not gloss over these issues but, rather, blends them into the characters and story, creating characters who become real and raw beings.

The majority of this book follows Heaven’s training with the circle. Although I sometimes struggled to follow the complex training terms and creatures’ names and references, I found it all very interesting to read. I am sure that reading the sequel would make me far less confused! And there’s also a guide at the back for any South African phrases you may not understand, which was great!

I really enjoyed the other key characters in Finding the Phoenix too. Blake really grew on me, particularly towards the end, with his care and protection towards Heaven. However, Alistair takes the prize for most interesting and intriguing character of the story! There’s still a lot we don’t know about him by the end of this book, and I feel that he will definitely surprise us throughout the series. I found myself very attached to his character and story, probably the most of all the characters, so I’m curious to see where his storyline will progress.

There’s also a short playlist at the back of the book, which I loved. I write most scenes to music, and associate many books with certain songs I was listening to at the time, and so I absolutely love it when an author gives you an insight into what they listened to whilst writing.

Overall, I found Finding the Phoenix to be a very interesting, unique and fascinating book, with much still to learn about this intriguing world. I can see this series building up to an epic, tense, edge-of-your-seat battle that I can’t wait to read!

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BOOK REVIEW | Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2) by Christi J. Whitney

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Title: Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2)

Author: Christi J. Whitney

Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA

Published: 2nd June 2016

Format: ebook

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)

 

 

 

“Monsters don’t attend graduation parties. Not even when their best friends send invitations decorated with enough glitter to nauseate a fairy.”

Goodreads Synopsis:

When stone hearts break they shatter.
Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.
When the Romany gypsies claim him, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But some clan members would rather see a gargoyle in a cage than have one by their sides.
If Sebastian is to keep Josephine safe from the shadow creatures attacking her people, he might have to embrace his changes. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.

If you haven’t yet read book 1 in the Romany Outcasts series, you can check out my review HERE!

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I know this book is coming out tomorrow, but can book three come out the day after, please?

Thank you so much to the author for sending me an ebook copy of Shadow in exchange for an honest review.

This book was AMAZING! Even better than book 1, which I also loved. After the events of the first book, all the tensions are heightened: the character developments, the relationships, the mysterious back-stories…tensions everywhere!

My heart seriously went out to Sebastian in this book. What a character development that takes place! The Sebastian at the start of Grey, is very different to the Sebastian at the end of Shadow, but the progression is so real, emotional and heart-breaking. I just wanted to give the boy a huge hug! And his snarky, sarcastic retorts were absolutely brilliant. I love that despite his situation, he still has a sense of humour. And I also love his reading tastes…

“I tucked the copy of Much Ado About Nothing I’d been reading under my arm”

I am a strong advocate for more teenage characters in YA books reading Shakespeare. Okay, not really, but I should be! I just love to see others love Shakespeare like I do (and did as a teenager in secondary school)!

The rest of the characters in this book are also wonderful to read. I loved learning more about the other Romany characters, and especially Josephine and her own struggles and development as a character. We get to see more of the villain side too, and I’m more than a little curious (as well as very worried) to find out what our villain has got in store for Sebastian in the next book. He certainly gave me the chills at the end of this one!

I was also so happy that this book takes place mostly in Romany clan; a setting I wanted to read more about in book 1. Reading about the gypsy life, and seeing the relationships and interactions between the characters was so interesting to read about. I just love the uniqueness of this story!

Yet again, this was a book that had me thinking about it whenever I put it down. The story is so gripping and intriguing, and I have become so attached to these characters. It’s a story that fully immerses you, and forces you to sit and read to the end as fast as you can. I thoroughly recommend this series to everyone who loves a good YA urban fantasy!

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COVER REVEAL: Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2) by Christi J. Whitney

I am very excited to be bringing you the cover reveal for Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2) by Christi J. Whitney…

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About the Book:
Title: Shadow (The Romany Outcasts #2)
Author: Christi J. Whitney
Release Date: 2nd June 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Synopsis:
The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.
When stone hearts break they shatter.
Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.
When the Romany gypsies claim him, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But some clan members would rather see a gargoyle in a cage than have one by their sides.
If Sebastian is to keep Josephine safe from the shadow creatures attacking her people, he might have to embrace his changes. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.

About the Author:
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Christi J. Whitney is the author of The Romany Outcasts Series (HarperCollins/HarperVoyagerUK).
She’s a former high school theatre director with a love for the dramatic. Christi lives just outside of Atlanta with her husband and two sons.
When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she is usually directing plays, geeking out over Doctor Who, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s a tad bit British.
Connect with her on Twitter @ChristiWhitney

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Aaaaaaaaand here’s the cover…

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Isn’t it absolutely stunning!
If you like the sound of Shadow, and haven’t already read Grey (book 1), I have reviewed it here on my blog!
I would highly recommend this series to anyone who loves urban fantasy, male protagonists, and something a little different to your usual YA read!

 

Amazon Links:
Grey eBook
Buy GREY now on Amazon UK 

 

 

 

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Preorder SHADOW now on Amazon UK