Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Posted on Friday, August 18th, 2017 by Emily May

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana PopovicWicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Published by HarperCollins on August 15th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love. 
But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

In some ways, I feel like I’m being generous. I’m upping my rating to two stars, and yet this book was so painfully slow and boring.
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One StarOne Star

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 by Emily May

The Good Daughter by Karin SlaughterThe Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins on August 8th 2017
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 528
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Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville's notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case that unleashes the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried forever…
Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

This is the second thriller I’ve read lately that opens with a shitstorm of drama. In the best kind of way, of course. But The Good Daughter is, in some ways, much darker than Stillhouse Lake, and in other ways slower and more character-driven.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 by Emily May

Hunted by Meagan SpoonerHunted by Meagan Spooner
Published by HarperCollins on March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2016 by Emily May

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Published by HarperCollins on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 400
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An atmospheric and romantic debut fantasy perfect for fans of Ash and The Winner’s Curse.
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Let’s start with the positive: there’s an LGBT romance. And also there’s… er, nope, sorry, that’s all I got for you.
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One Star

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2016 by Emily May

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnisThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by HarperCollins on September 20th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.
Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.
As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

This is how I kill someone.
And I don’t feel bad about it.

BRUTAL. That’s how I would describe this book. It sits there all unassuming with its cute yellow cover and pictures of animals, but underneath it has some serious fangs. Rather like the female of the species, I suppose. Read more… »

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
Posted on Friday, July 29th, 2016 by Emily May

This Savage Song by V.E. SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Published by HarperCollins on July 5th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 464
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Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

She liked the idea that there were a hundred different Kates, living a hundred different lives.
Maybe in one of them, there were no monsters.

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One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2016 by Emily May

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane Published by HarperCollins on June 7th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 512
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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.
Like that could go wrong

“My lady,” he said gallantly, “I’m willing to stop whenever you are. Perhaps you’d be better off sticking to more womanly pursuits, like embroidery or music or-“
She bashed him in the ribs.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 by Emily May

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Published by HarperCollins on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know.  The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

She was the sun, and he was a mere rock, drawn in by her gravity. He needed to be closer, to feel her magic, to touch . . . her.

Anyone for another boring, fluffy fantasy full of magic and murder instalove, love triangles and ballgowns?

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One Star

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 by Emily May

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus QuinnDown with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Published by HarperCollins on April 26th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 368
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Think twice before you make a wish in this imaginative, twisted, and witty new novel from the author of Another Little Piece.
When Lennie brings a few jars of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s house party, she has everyone who drinks it make a wish. It’s tradition. So is the toast her uncles taught her: “May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one.”
The thing is, those words aren’t just a tradition. The next morning, every wish—no matter how crazy—comes true. And most of them turn out bad. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade . . .

This started strong, but grew too silly for my tastes.
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One StarOne Star

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2016 by Emily May

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreightThe Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
Published by HarperCollins on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.
This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.
But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

I made a real effort to convince myself this book was worth more than one teacup. After all, I really enjoyed the author’s adult novel – Reconstructing Amelia – and the beginning was more cliche than outright awful.

But this book is nuts. Abso-freaking-lutely nuts. And it just kept getting worse. Like, laughably bad.

As I said, we didn’t start out on the best terms. I’ve seen variations of these YA crime/mystery stories many times and I’ve lost count of how many involve a missing/dead best friend, a hot guy who was involved with said best friend (a douche who turns out to be not so much a douche), a mysterious text, and two teens deciding to solve a mystery without telling any parents or police – and, seriously, they never have a good reason for doing this!

In this book, Wylie’s friend – Cassie – has gone missing. While her dad goes to help Cassie’s mom, Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend) turns up at the door with a strange text from Cassie. They must go driving across state lines to find her! And they must tell no one! OTT, unbelievable thing #1 .

Despite suffering from agoraphobia since her mom died, Wylie takes a deep breath, grabs her coat and leaves her house for the first time in forever. As easy as clicking her heels together! OTT, unbelievable thing #2.

Then they set out on this long road trip, which is a) boring, and b) when not boring, absolutely ludicrous. Near-death experiences, chases through the woods, and (view spoiler). OTT, unbelievable thing #3. Plus, I started to hate Wylie for ignoring her poor dad’s concerned texts for so long.

Also – are these two TSTL or what? Cassie sends another mysterious text saying the people she’s with are “not who I thought they were” and Wylie is worried. Oh, worried are you, Wylie? How’s about calling the police instead of tootling along to where your friend is in trouble with an unknown number of people? There could be fifty of them with guns, for all you know. OTT, unbelievable thing #4.

And then we get to the final stretch of the novel, which is so ridiculous it is actually funny. One twist after another after another. But they’re not good twists. I promise not to give away any spoilers, but the only way it could be more insane is if Wylie was actually an alien with a mission to destroy earth and she’d been lying to us all this time (I’m only slightly exaggerating).

It’s also possible – though still undetermined – that the author may be taking us towards a complete genre change by the end. Who knows, though? It was so messy, I think I might have got lost.

The novel jolts to a close with a melodramatic cliffhanger that made me snort with laughter. Everything about this book is so farfetched to the point of being farcical. I mean, let me just tell you the last word, just the single last word of the book (spoiler-tagged, of course, even though it doesn’t give away anything): View Spoiler »

Sorry, I need to go laugh some more.

One Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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