Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Changeling by Helen Falconer

I received this book for free via Netgalley however this in no way affects the opinions expressed in this review

The Changeling

by Helen Falconer

Released: 4th June 2015
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural
Other books by Helen Falconer:
Primrose Hill
Sky High
Goodreads Description:
Some of us are born to be magic.

Aoife is an ordinary teenager, hanging out with her childhood friend Carla, putting up with school. The worst she has to contend with is that the boy of Carla’s dreams is trying to get off with her instead.

But then, after chasing a lost little girl no one seems to be able to see, Aoife starts to develop mysterious powers. Eventually her parents confess that she isn’t their real daughter. Their human child was stolen by the fairies, and Aoife is the changeling left behind in her place.

Shocked and disorientated, Aoife turns to Shay, the taciturn farmer’s son who is the only person who might believe her story. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey, which takes them deep into the underworld and changes everything they thought they knew about fairies.

My Review

I can’t express how amazing this book was! After the pretty upsettingly bad run of books I’ve had in the past few weeks, The Changeling was a welcome treat that’s definitely made it’s way onto my favourites. I read it in one sitting and it had reduced me to tears by the end: How could I not proclaim it a favourite?

Being a huge fan of romantic fantasy, I entered this book with my critic head on, ready to compare it to every other romantic fantasy on the planet. By about 20% through the book I realised that wasn’t going to work. The Changeling is incomparable to any of my past favourites and brings a whole new concept to my idea of romantic fantasy. Sure, I’ve read books based off Irish mythology, and I’ve read plenty of YA romantic fantasy, but combining the two can be quite a difficult task due to how complex Irish mythology actually is. Helen Falconer did it stunningly and proved it definitely can work.

The way she revealed the plot bit by bit had me rolling around my bed in eager frustration as I came up with the most abstract of theories about what was going on. And I still found myself screaming at myself as Falconer revealed things that I really should have guessed from all the sneaky little clues but nu-uh.

Aoife and Shay, the two main characters, were loveable at their worsts. Although you were kind of told something was up with Shay, Aoife was as normal as you can make a character. It was so exciting when she began sprouting up all these powers and began to learn who she was. On the other hand, for some reason I spent almost the entire book in denial about Shay, believing he was totally normal, even when he started showing a couple of blatant signs he wasn’t actually human. When it became too much and I finally had to admit he wasn’t quite human, it took me way longer than it should’ve to figure out the whole ins and outs of the situation and got me way more excited than it should’ve.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone with any interest in folkloric fantasy or just a thirst for a good YA Romantic Fantasy. I will definitely be buying this book if only to lend it to everyone I know and can’t wait to reread it!

As far as I can tell there’s going to be more to this series and boy am I glad. I need more! Now!

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Abi Ainley

My Personal Read-a-thon

So, as you might have noticed, I haven't posted a review in a couple of weeks or so. In and amongst my exams, my kindle breaking and my trip to London, it's been hell trying to find time to read. I've read on and off different books (I read a good way through This is Not a Love Story by Keren David but had to give it up because I just couldn't get into it) but haven't been able to finish any.

For these reason's, I'm ridiculously behind on review books and have therefore decided to spend the next week reading as many as possible, to a reasonable extent. I've just finished my first book (The Changeling by Helen Falconer), which reduced me to tears so I'm definitely out of my accidental reading slump! I'll be writing that review right after this and will post in either tonight or tomorrow. :D

Very excited to read all week!

Abi Ainley

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Bound by Spells by Stormy Smith (Book blitz & GIVEAWAY)

Book Blitz & Giveaway!

Bound by Spells

by Stormy Smith

It’s always fun to talk about a second book, but we never want to spoil anything about the first one for you, so today, we have a special treat from Stormy Smith, author of the Bound Series. Right now, BOTH Bound by Duty and Bound by Spells are on sale for just 99 cents each on Amazon (US and UK).

To set this up, the Bound Series is a coming of age story. A clean, new adult, urban fantasy that has wracked up 190 5-star reviews between both books. Bound by Duty is the story from Amelia, our main character, and Bound by Spells alternates between Amelia and Aidan.

Right now, Bound by Duty is nominated for “Best Book Hangover” in the UtopYA 2015 awards and Bound by Spells was endorsed by USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog as “paranormal gold.”

For my part in this book blitz I've decided to go for the excerpt from Bound by Duty as I know many people who read this post, like me, haven't read it yet. I have to say though, I'm quite impressed by this excerpt and definitely fancy getting the book now!

From Aidan

 What in the hell am I doing here? The thought raced through my head for the hundredth time. I scrubbed both hands over my face and back through my hair, yanking on it a little and trying to reason with myself. 

You’re going to freak her out. 

She doesn’t even know you. 

‘Oh, hi, Amelia. I know you don’t know me but I’ve been watching you the last few weeks and I think we’d get along great. No, I’m not a creeper. Trust me.’ 

I groaned and dropped my head down. I was sitting under some kind of beach pergola on a picnic table that had seen better days. If I even took a deep breath it might crumple under me. I was hiding and I knew it. It’s bad enough I heard Amelia and her friend talking about this party and then psyched myself into showing up, but now I have totally chickened out. I wasn’t interested in the party or the drunk chicks upstairs. Just her.

I don’t normally get worked up like this but she has me all turned around. I’d been watching Amelia Bradbury since the first day of class. I was the charmer. I knew from years of experience with foster families how to make sure people liked me, but she never even gave me a chance. She wanted to hide and never once even looked my way. I could see it in the way her eyes darted all over the room without making eye contact with anyone. And in the way she wore her hair down, trying to hide behind the long, dark strands. She sat in the back, forcing me to the outer edges of the room so that I could keep watching without making it obvious. When she got up she would often run into things, but never people, clutching her backpack before hustling to the next place. 

The first time I saw her relax was by accident. I was in the commons eating and suddenly, there she was. Her eyes lit up and her posture straightened. She yanked the band from her wrist and flipped her head down, coming back up with it in a ponytail. It was the first time I’d been able to truly see her and I was captivated. Her eyes couldn’t decide what color they wanted to be and floated between brown and green. Some people would call it hazel but they didn’t mix so much as shift as the light hit them. She was thin but curved. I wanted to run my hands from her shoulders to her hips just to feel the dip and flare. I turned, anxiety flooding my system, and found the source of her joy…another girl. I let go of a breath I hadn’t known I was holding and couldn’t stop the laugh the erupted from my chest. Amelia strode up, gave the blond a hug, and they immediately started talking. Then the blond spoke and Amelia laughed. It was music to my deaf ears and something inside me came alive. I wanted to be the one to do that. I wanted to make her laugh. For the first time in my life I was jealous of a girl.

I was ready to call it. Being here on this picnic bench was ridiculous and there was no way I was going to have the balls to walk up to her now. I had completely psyched myself out of having any kind of shot at this. I was ready to get up and head for my car when I heard someone bouncing down the stairs. I worried first that something was wrong. Their feet pattered down so quickly I thought they might be running. I stayed in my spot in the shadows, but tensed my body in case I had to move quickly. Lately I had had way too much excess energy and I’d been spending a lot of time in the gym. I could do some damage if it came down to it. The last thing I expected was to see shoes flipping off and long legs soaring through the air as Amelia leapt from the last step and landed softly out into the sand. For just a moment she was suspended mid-air and I could have sworn she was flying. When she hit the beach she didn’t miss a beat, her feet moving her swiftly toward the water. 

Her body was long and lean. A ballerina but with curves. She was so focused on the water that it wasn’t until she was ankle deep and had dropped her head back, a small satisfied smile pulling at her lips, that she realized she wasn’t alone. I had barely moved, a low groan coming from the bench underneath me. Her whole body stiffened in what I assumed was fear. I felt like an intruder. This was going to be a great way for us to meet, surely. But, you shouldn’t blow opportunities when they come. Or so said my last caseworker before I turned eighteen and had been accepted into Brighton’s community college. No sense in turning back now.

“So, you’re hiding from them, too, huh?” I was going for charming. Like I had some kind of game. But the words felt like peanut butter in my mouth and I was glad she couldn’t see my reddened face from where she was standing. Amelia slowly turned toward me, her voice small as she squinted and tried to see me better. “Do I know you?”

I felt like even more of a tool. She had no idea who I was. She stared my way for a few more seconds and then whipped around, facing back out into the water. I watched her chest moving quickly, her breaths coming too fast. I slowly started to move toward her, worried she might be getting a little too freaked out and wanting to reassure her that I wasn’t actually a sociopath.

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady but soft. She turned to face me slowly and the full moon sliced its light just perfectly to illuminate me but keep her face mostly shadowed. She was close enough that I could see her eyes widen and roam from my nose to my knees, without ever meeting my own. I stood up a little taller and couldn’t stop the smirk as I realized I might have some of the same effect on her that she had on me. She raked her gaze up and down and it wasn’t until I tried to get her attention that her eyes finally snapped back to mine.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I waved a hand in front of her face and said, “Hello?” Then the Amelia I knew came back in a mad rush. She fumbled over her words, looking anywhere but at me. She tugged at the ends of her hair and a tried to walk away, but I couldn’t let her. I wasn’t ready to let her go yet and I needed to know her. I couldn’t stop myself from reaching out and taking her arm. It was our first contact and I don’t know what I had expected, but it wasn’t heat blooming under my fingertips or her heartbeat inside my head. In milliseconds of my skin on hers she was inside me, and I knew I’d never get her out.

“Wait. Just wait.” More quiet, controlled words. I couldn’t let her leave. I had to keep her there. I had to keep touching her. “I’ve seen you before. You’re Amelia, right?” Normal, Aidan. Act normal.

“Yeah,” she whispered. I had forced her to look at me and I would swear to any judge that we wore the same expression. She felt something. I knew she did.

“We have a couple classes together, but you always sit in the back and never say anything.” Dammit. So suave. So charming. You’re an idiot, Montgomery 

I was instantly ashamed. I watched her reaction and I knew it too well. She squeezed her eyes shut and her lips smashed together, holding in the pain of not fitting in. I might be a charmer now, but I’d been sent away by enough families to know what I had just done.

“Oh, that was dumb. I’m sorry. Anyway, I’m Aidan. Aidan Montgomery.” I took advantage of the opportunity to trail my fingertips from her bicep down to her wrist and then folded her hand into mine, shaking it softly. I felt fire the whole way and judging by the widening of her eyes and the swift intake of breath, so did she. For a second, she gripped my hand, but as our eyes connected again and I couldn’t stop my grin, she dropped it and without a word took off running. I couldn’t move, my hand still in front of me and my jaw hanging open, as I watched her bound up the stairs and disappear. I dropped onto the hard-packed sand and didn’t bother to move as the tide rose and the salty water surrounded me.

Well, that couldn’t have gone better. 


Personally, I'm a little desperate to find out what's her problem. I definitely see a pretty exciting relationship developing from this is well!

Ready to read more? For the duration of this book blitz (June 11th to June 14th, 2015), BOTH Bound by Duty and Bound by Spells are on sale for just 99 cents each on Amazon (US and UK).

Buy the books:
-          Bound by Duty (Bound Series, Book One) Release Date: July 24, 2014
-          Bound by Spells (Bound Series, Book Two) Release Date: March 19, 2015
See UK Amazon link for Bound by Spells at the bottom of the post.

Bound by Duty Synopsis: Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder, but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control, but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and doesn't even know his name.

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky southern girl, or fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is, not what she will become.

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head win the battle, or her heart?

Bound by Spells Synopsis: Aidan Montgomery hadn't been prepared for Amelia Bradbury to walk in and then out of his life. He also hadn't expected to find the powerful magic hidden deep within him for the last nineteen years, but he's embracing it -- finding more control and more answers every day. Now, with the help of Amelia's best friend, Bethany, Aidan is on a quest to understand his destiny and find Amelia.

Amelia decided to stand by her duty, which meant walking away from her first chance at love. Trapped in Cresthaven at the Queen's mercy, she spends her days with Micah -- an ally she still holds at arm's length -- struggling to manage her heartbreak while keeping her mind focused on the task at hand. As she continues to unlock the secrets of the Keeper power, Queen Julia's true motives reveal themselves, forcing Amelia to decide, yet again, how much she's willing to sacrifice.

Will Aidan get to Amelia before it's too late, or will the very power that sustains them keep them apart?


Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • $40 Amazon Gift Card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Featuring a cast of mages and shapeshifters with unique magical abilities, one destiny-shaping prophecy, a genocidal megalomaniac, and a budding, heated romance (or two!), this book is paranormal gold! Read the first book in the series first, of course, but once you finish this one you're sure to be salivating for the next release in this not-to-be-missed romantic paranormal series." 

-- Serena Chase, USA Today's Happy Ever After blog

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Xpresso Book Tours

Abi Ainley

Monday, 8 June 2015

Review: The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter #1) by Virginia Boecker

I received this book for free via Netgalley however this in no way affects the opinions expressed in this review

The Witch Hunter

by Virginia Boecker

Release: 2nd June 2015
Publisher: Orchard Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural, Historical
Other books by Virginia Boecker:
Goodreads Description:
Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

My Review

The Witch Hunter is a low fantasy set in an alternate Middle Ages. There's a ban on witchcraft derived from fear and witch hunters traverse the country catching anyone practising any form of magic to be burned. Elizabeth is a witch hunter, although it's made pretty damn clear that she wasn't right to be a witch hunter and she only did it for Caleb.

I feel like I'm going to repeat what everyone else's said but with a few more positive points inbetween but whatever...

I did find that Elizabeth seemed ridiculously oblivious to some obvious points at times, which was only to direct the plot. It got a little annoying and I came out of reading this with the only character I liked being Schuyler. Who, may I say, is conveyed as being British but has a specifically Dutch name. In the Middle Ages. Other than that though, he was pretty entertaining. And the only character who didn't seem to be dumb as they come.

The majority of this book was about Elizabeth's love life. Sure, that ain't a problem to have a bit of romance, but you either focus on advancing Elizabeth and John's relationship or advancing the plot. Attempting both obviously didn't work out and, although the book was written as if the plot was meant to take centre stage, the character relationships messed it up quite a lot.

Over all though, I did enjoy the book, even if it annoyed me multiple times throughout, and I will definitely be picking up the next in the series. Just to see where Elizabeth and John go to be honest. And hopefully the plot will have been fixed up a bit.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Abi Ainley