The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

“I am going to do my best to be normal, all day. That is my challenge to myself. I do not want anybody to guess the truth about me. I look down at my left hand. I have written BE NORMAL on it. I see Agi looking at it too. ‘I should also remind myself of this sometimes,’ she says, with a nod.”

I thought this book would be a bit childish seeing as the main character has been kept at the age of 10, despite her being 17 physically.

However, Flora is not what I expected her to be. She is not afraid to explore her world, despite her memory being restricted to what she has written down (on her hand, her arm or in her notebook & sometimes on one of many post-it’s)!

Flora kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend. Drake then leaves to the Arctic to embark on a new course, which is being taught in English.

When Flora’s parents leave on a trip, Flora decides to go in search of Drake to find out what else she can remember.

The adventure starts before she leaves, when her parents go on their trip, but I don’t want to spoil the book for you. It continues in the Arctic up until she ends up back at home.

This is an engaging tale, written as Flora sees it. It isn’t boring, though you might think it would be, seeing as Flora cannot remember anything. I think that hearing the story from Flora’s viewpoint adds depth to the storytelling and I found it very engaging. I read most of it in one sitting, then finished the small remaining portion of the book in a second sitting a couple of days later. I would probably have read it in one go if I hadn’t started reading it so late in the day! I heartily recommend this book to you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
You always remember your first kiss.
Flora remembers nothing else…
“I look at my hands. One of them says ‘Flora, be brave’. I am Flora.”
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t have kissed – and the next day she remembers it. The first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone.

Desperate to hold onto the memory, she sets off to the Arctic to find him.

Why can she remember Drake? Could he be the key to everything else she’s forgotten?

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Immortal Writers Immortal Writers Series Book 1 by Jill Bowers

“Liz looked at the clothes laid out for her in absolute horror. Leather? Wasn’t it bad enough that these nut jobs had kidnapped her and that they wanted her to kill someone? Now they wanted her to wear skin-tight leather?”

I think that this book was more likely to have been a thriller fantasy in my imagination, before I read it, that is.

Really it was a much softer story than I expected. It seemed to be aimed at younger readers (Young Adults) than the likes of me.

Liz has been on a promotional tour for her new book when she is kidnapped and whisked away to a place of amazement. Her kidnapper wants her to believe that her books have come to life and that her own world is at risk from the villain of her book. Why would she believe such a ridiculous story, even if some of the people where she is being held look exactly like the characters from her book! That’s just clever acting and expensive plastic surgery after all.

Then a fire breathing dragon comes after her and everything goes up in the air, literally. Liz meets more than just the characters in her books when she is invited to join the Immortal Writers, proper.

From that point on Liz fights her way to the end of her own story, with much loss of bodily fluids along the way (blood, sweat and tears)!

I do think that the author may have been feeling her way along in some places, as the writing became less well crafted and I could see the ‘writers’ hand’ in the storyline. Each step, breath, thought and action was laid out to be read, for example “Curtis nodded, straightened his shoulders, and hid his grief. Liz thought he was brave to be able to focus on his duty rather than the loss of his friend. Liz wondered why she wasn’t a wreck right now. She supposed it wasn’t real to her yet…”

And yet I found the whole concept of the story very compelling and engaging. I have read other novelists ‘first in a series’ books which have been of similar standard and they have GROWN so much in their writing as the series progressed. I fully expect Jill to do exactly the same. She ‘feels’ to be a great writer in the offing, to me. I am eagerly awaiting her next book in the series to see what happens next with The Immortal Writers.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars [Really this warrants a 3.5, but the scoring system is either 3 or 4, so I have to give a 3] (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her.

Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

A Note From the Publisher
Jill Bowers is a fantasy author and handbell composer. She attended Utah State University for their creative writing program. She loves all things nerdy and lives in Utah with her beloved dachshund, Jasmine.

The Reader by MK Harkins

“This looks like a normal neighborhood,” I said. “We’re back,” Devon shouted to the gatehouse guard. Dressed in a blue military uniform, the stocky male sentry wore a rifle slung over his shoulder. “I take it back. This is not normal.” “The guard is here for us. It’s important we have privacy.” Archer unrolled his window and flashed some sort of badge.”

I anticipated a futurist tale, though not too far in the future as it wasn’t based off world. Perhaps some telepathy and telekinesis, that sort of thing.

It started with Ann waking up on a beach, but thinking she was dead, or almost dead; until some kids come across her and shriek as she moves. Maybe she is a zombie? She comes around a bit more and realises that she needs to find somewhere safe. It is as she is planning a safe route off the beach that she is found by two young men who set about trying to help her.

Ann is uncertain about her entire situation and to compound things, she has completely lost her memory. Though when they ask her if she is a reader, she remembers a room of books and agrees that she likes to read.
From here Ann is taken by the two young men to a gated community and from there into safe haven where she is introduced to ‘family and friends’ and encouraged to feel at home, while she recovers her memory.

Once settled, the strange behaviour of those nearest to her within the community puzzles her, as they either seem to compete for her attention or warn her to stay away from certain individuals for her own safety. Other events put her in direct danger and she and others must fight for their lives.

I enjoyed the story. It reminded me of a couple of other ‘series’ that I have read and enjoyed: The Aliomenti Saga by Alex Albrinck and The girl in the box series by Robert J Crane. If you read and enjoyed either (or both) of these series, then I am sure that you will enjoy this one. If you haven’t, try them after reading this!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One. She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos. As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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Rise of the Chosen Lifeblood Series #1 by Anna Kopp

“Like in a slow motion movie, he dropped to his knees, the bag falling out of his hand. Blood began to pool in a ring around his neck. He fell forward, his head sliding off and hitting the ground a moment before his body.”

I guessed this was going to be a zombie-style book with a twist – some don’t go on a killing spree! Other than that I had no idea what to expect.

The books starts with Sam Shields waking to an alarm. Only this isn’t your usual kind of alarm, this is one that is life-changing!

On waking for a second time, Sam has to move on after the events of the day before, she not only has an ex-boyfriend to deal with, she also gets her team assignment in the next few days, so after all that has happened, she moves into the barracks till she knows where she will go next.

Sam’s journey involves danger, reunion, kidnapping and death, for many of those around her and, possibly for Sam herself. Sam has more to lose than she realises, I think.

This is a well written tale, with an original twist on the zombie theme. I thought it was a little reminiscent of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series of books, so if you enjoyed those, definitely read this! I found it very enjoyable and compulsive reading.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Description:
In Sam’s world there are two rules. Rule #1: Nobody dies. Protect the living at all costs. Rule #2: Everybody dies. At least once.

The Waking was a global event in which a force called the Lifeblood invaded all humans who died. The few strong enough to control it came back as powerful immortals. The rest let the bloodlust take over and awoke with one goal – to kill.

Newly appointed Watch Guard Samantha Shields has a legacy to uphold. Her father died a hero defending their city and now she wants to follow in his footsteps. Except for the dying part, of course. Unfortunately, fate has other plans as she discovers deep dark secrets that make her choose between her loyalties and the lives of everyone in her city. Both rules are in play as Sam is forced to make hard decisions that could cost her everything – including the person she cares about most.

A Note From the Publisher
Anna Kopp was born in Russia and immigrated to the US when she was 11. She joined the US Army and lived in Georgia during her military career before settling down in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in business but her true passion is writing. Anna is a wife and business partner to a software developer, and a mom to two rambunctious boys. A true geek at heart, Anna would love nothing more than to see her imagination become a part of something greater. Her debut novel, Rise of the Chosen, is the first installment in the “Lifeblood Series.”

Descent (The Dream Protocol Book #1) by Adara Quick

” “… the transfer shuts down natural sleep rhythms.” “The IDreams cause insomnia?” “Yeah. The more dreams you download, the more you want -because you can’t sleep without them.” “

This could be so like Logan’s Run with the limit on life time allowance. Mind you, that isn’t what I was expecting, something more sinister maybe? Let’s see…

The book starts with Maeve’s descent. Deirdre arrives late which annoys her father. Then, Maeve does a runner and Flynn is exposed as a result.

In Skellig City the inhabitants live a life below ground. The citizens are selected for life roles when they reach 16 years of age. They work in their roles for the benefit of the community earning credits. These credits can be used to buy dreams. The dreams are created by the Makers and can take citizens to whatever place or experience they can afford to buy.

But not all citizens are happy with this set-up, and Deirdre is one of them. She wants to save Flynn and go topside.

Of course those that are in charge think differently and so a struggle ensues.

It isn’t predictable, it is dark and ominous (the structure moves its walls around without warning, after all), and you really need to read it. I read it in a day (well into the night). I will be reading the next book, Selection, definitely.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GET OLD. In fiery young Deirdre Callaghan’s home of Skellig City, no one has dreamt their own dream in over a thousand years. Dreams are produced by the Dream Makers and sold by the Ministry, the tyrannical rulers of the city. In Skellig City, years of life are awarded equally and the ruined are cast away beneath the city on their 35th birthday.

Unbeknownst to the Ministry, Deirdre’s handsome friend Flynn Brennan is afflicted with a terrible disease – a disease that accelerates the aging process. Knowing his fate if the Ministry should ever discover his illness, Flynn has lived his whole life hiding from their watchful eyes. When Flynn’s secret is finally discovered, Deirdre is determined to free him from the Ministry’s grasp. But to save him, she will have to reveal herself to a shadowy enemy…one that none of them even knew existed.

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Night Draws In By C.H. Alexander

“They only tell stories about the people who save the world and survive. A lot of people get ‘chosen,’ “He repeated Barnum’s gesture of air quotes around the word “chosen.” “but most of them don’t live to tell about it.”

This story tells of a changeling returned and the trials she goes through on returning to the human landscape. It isn’t easy for her and there is no let up as she is immediately sent away by her natural mother.

When Angela joins her sister she starts at a new school immediately, and her new classmates are involved, as strange things start to happen in the area. Angela believes she has been trained to be a hero, so stands up for her new found friends. The rest is for you to read!

A good book, I read it in one sitting. I think this is worth reading if you like supernatural and fae. The story continues into another book and I would really like to know what happens next. A fairy story with a difference!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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“You three need to understand, you’re being drawn into things a lot bigger than yourselves.”

Dark things. Things that should only live in fantasy. The Nain Rouge was recently sighted in Detroit and Black Eyed Children haunt Washtenaw County.

“If the Dark holds sway, all the more reason I am needed.”

Angela is a changeling, fostered by the Fae and recently returned from the Twilight Realm. Raised to be a champion and still healing from the passage to the human world, she struggles to catch up to the life she never lived.

“You have a Destiny? Well, I didn’t sign up for this.”

Lydia is underestimated by many because of her deformity. She scoffs at the paranormal but her innate skepticism cannot prevent her hobby of stage magic evolving into something more real.

“Listen to me very carefully, Mr. Bailey. You are aware that this is not just a dream, correct?”

Bailey is a queer teenager trying to keep a low profile until he can escape high school. He is haunted by dreams and premonitions of a menacing evil.

Skeptical mage, queer seer, and brain injured warrior. Destined to save us.

Hunted by supernatural predators that want to end them before they reach their heroic potential, these teenagers will have to travel to Fairy and back if they want to survive long enough to save the world.

Finder (First Ordinance, #1) by Connie Suttle

“I began growing what the palace physician called bone spurs on my shoulder blades, and he ordered them cut away using the same nipping tool the smiths used to trim horses’ hooves. The procedure is quite painful, leaving my back sore for weeks.”

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, other than that it was about a girl who would be important in a dying land. A fantasy book, which would take me away for a while.

Finder is a girl working in the kitchens, she is mute and as a result is mostly ignored, as long as she gets her work done. And her work usually involves the grotty jobs that no-one else wants to do.

Finder comes to the notice of those above her and get’s her name as a result, when she starts finding things. It comes out in the open when Lord Yeovil ‘loses’ his purse and Irdith pushes her forward as someone who can find it for him. Finder senses that no good will come of this but does as commanded (she has no choice), the resultant death of the thief Erdin was horrible to witness despite her premonition!

Then Prince Amlis hears of her and things change completely for Finder. Life continues down a different route for her and she ends up getting into all sorts of adventures.

The story is intriguing and takes amazing turns. It certainly warrants reading and I think the rest of the series will as well. It is well written and engaging.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A dead god.

A dying world.

A girl never meant to be sentient.

Siriaa is dying. A poison is spreading throughout the planet and none know how to neutralize it. Finder, working in King Tamblin’s castle kitchen most of her life, has never spoken. A child of questionable parentage, Finder is an orphan assigned to perform duties nobody else wants.

While others plan intrigue, murder and invasion to escape the poison’s effects, Finder watches all in mute acceptance. Will she be the key to Siriaa’s salvation, or will it die about her, without knowing why?

Lady of Devices (A Steampunk Adventure Novel) by Shelley Adina

“She had never realized with such painful clarity how much she had taken even a shilling for granted.”

What I expected:
I liked the idea of this book, based in Victorian England with steam power as the main energy source. But really, believed it would turn out to be a soppy romantic novel, with a betrayal twist.

What it was:
The novel tells about the life of Lady Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, who prefers mixing recipes for explosive purposes over those for housekeeping purposes. She is on the cusp of being presented at court, just a couple of weeks to go, with lots of social events in the build-up to the the big event. Suddenly the rug is pulled from under her feet and she finds that she must leave her London house very suddenly and in trying to find somewhere to stay her circumstances are turned around completely.
She takes up life with a group of individuals , who with her leadership become a leading underground gang.
She attends an interview for the position of assistant to Andrew Malvern of the Royal Society of Engineers, who she discovers is a business partner of an acquaintance. This gives her pause for thought about the position.
The book ends rather abruptly, obviously the next book continues the story. It turns out that there are 10 books in the series. I don’t know if I will read any more of them, seeing as this one was just that little bit too short on length and substance. A shame that the set hadn’t been compiled of 5 longer books, which would have been worth investing time and money in reading. 

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.

At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices.

When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . but sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

““What is that she’s touching?” “Some kind of sculpture, I don’t know.” The woman shrugs. “She stares at it a lot, though.” I recognize it from somewhere—from Tobias’s room, where I slept after my almost-execution in Erudite headquarters. It’s made of blue glass, an abstract shape that looks like falling water frozen in time.”

What I expected:
I was so looking forward to finding out how Tris and Four would put things right  and sort out the factions an factionless with their fellows. 

What it was:
This was both refreshing and a let down. I blame it on someone who had already read the whole series giving me a heads up on the type of ending it would have (deliberately not saying what so it doesn’t spoil it for anyone else). I was looking for indicators the whole time and even saw some bits coming as a consequence! Such a shame as I was enjoying reading the whole series.
Tris is her usual strong gritty self, sometimes a bit abrasive. Four is fragile and strong at the same time as usual. Very much like real humans really, which makes the whole plot structure very firm footed.
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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What if your whole world was a lie? The thrillingly dark conclusion to the No. 1 New York Times bestselling DIVERGENT trilogy.

Second Twin (Legend of Rhyme Series Volume 1 Book 4) by Jaime Lee Mann

“Please, Father!” she begs. “Please stop now. Ple—” But her head is back below the water before she has time to hold her breath.”

What I expected:
This is book 4 in the series, based around the Caine family. The last book in the series ended with Ariana and Asher being transported to another time. It seemed like a trick played on them by Grimblerod, who had his own agenda. I was anticipating that I’d read more about Asher, Arian and Teagan; and the developments in their adventures. The previous books have all been reasonably short books, so I anticipated a reasonably quick read too.

What it was:
Of all the books in the series, this one is the longest. I liked the added element that Teagan brings to the book, from quite a different slant than the other characters. There is a great deal going on, across multiple environments and timelines; with switching back and forth between them. Jaime Lee Mann does flag up where you are each time very clearly though, so it does help a great deal with keeping up (plus I have one of those brains which leaps from one topic to another and back again, so I was at a tiny bit of an advantage there!).
I think that JLM has really done her best work with this book, it was more engaging and ‘grown up’ in its style. The characters are ‘growing’ and there seems to be more going on. The storyline does seem to be moving on slowly though, I felt that Teagan’s story had only just been touched on, as the book ended. I guess I’ll be waiting on the next book then!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Grimblerod has led twins Asher and Ariana Caine back to ancient Rhyme, a time when Calla and Elora were the same age the twins are now. Though the Kingdom of Falmoor is rich with magic, the twins are unable to use their powers. They don’t know whom to trust, where to turn, or how to avoid doing something in the past that may alter the future forever.

Meanwhile, young Teagan Rogers must decide if she is ready to leave behind everything and everyone she knows to follow her mysterious destiny beneath the waves.

Will Teagan choose to become a mermaid?
Will Asher and Ariana get home before changing the course of history forever?
And can enemies truly become friends?