Book number 14 for me in 2014 was Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam, which is the 40th book in his Discworld series. I have read all 40 of these books and enjoyed each one of them. A large part of me is tempted to start them again from the beginning – what a fabulous series to re-read!

I have seen plenty of poor reviews for this novel, and I won’t write too much now, but suffice to say, I liked it! I did think that Sir Terry managed to mention almost every major character he has based a novel on – except the Witches – and that did leave me wondering if this is the last Discworld novel, which would be sad although understandable. There was a lot happening in this book, but I really enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook version and I liked Steven Brigg’s narration. I have rated this 4 out of 5. I love the Discworld books.

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The seventh book I have read in 2014 is: Michael Morpurgo’s The White Horse of Zennor. I have read a few Morpurgo books now, including War Horse, and have enjoyed them. This book is no different. I wasn’t sure I would like this book as it was short – only 150 pages, and consisted of short stories. I don’t usually like short stories, I find them hard to engage with however this was not the case with this book. It is possible that I found these easier because they are children’s stories but whatever the reason, this was a book I really enjoyed. I liked all the stories and how they were linked together at the end. It only took me a day to read this book and I found myself wanting to keep picking the book up. This was a short, fun, good read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s fiction, short stories
Published: 1985
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Franny move to the country and find an Enchanted Wood right on their doorstep. In the magic Faraway Tree live the magical characters that soon become their new friends – Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, and Saucepan Man. Together they visit the strange lands (the Roundabout Land, the Land of Ice and Snow, Toyland and the Land of Take What You Want) atop the tree and have the most exciting adventures – and narrow escapes.

I loved this book as a child. I remember my Mum reading it to me and my younger brother, and as an adult I look back at not just this book, but the whole Magic Faraway Tree series, as my favourite childhood books. It was an absolute pleasure as an adult reading these. I can’t wait to read them to my children! The book is as fun and as wonderful as I remember it.

The story follows Joe, Beth and Franny as they explore the Enchanted Wood by their new home. In the Wood, they find the trees can talk, that elves live there, and of course the Magic Faraway Tree, which houses many extraordinary folk. People like Moonface and Silky the fairy. Not only that, but at the very top of the tree is a ladder which takes you into a number of different lands. The children explore several of these and end up in all sorts of situations – some fun, such as The Land of Birthdays, and some not as great, such as Toyland. And, the most important thing to remember, is they must get back to the tree before the land moves on, otherwise they could be stuck up there forever!

This book was so much fun! I didn’t want to put it down when I was reading it. I loved being reminded of all the crazy characters, such as Dame Washalot, who regularly soaked the children when she threw her dirty washing water down the tree. I loved the incorporation of fairy tales, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is so cleverly written and just a delight to read. I can’t stop gushing about this book – it has adventure, it has brilliant characters and even as an adult, this book is a great read. I kept turning to my husband as I read this book telling him he needed to read it!

I have a fairly new addition of this book, which contained illustrations. I have to say, I even liked them! Here is an example of one of them:
The Enchanted Wood Characters

I loved everything about this book. I loved it as a child, and I love it as an adult. This book is so worth reading! I can’t fault it in anyway!
5 star

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Addition: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

I chose this for our book club as I really enjoyed the musical but I have to say, I was disappointed with the book. It isn’t as close to the musical as I thought it would be and it was much heavier.

The story follows Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. We learn about her parents and the friviolous life she led – which could explain why Elphaba was green. We saw a glimpse of her life at university, where she starts her political campaign and then as she starts this campaign, we follow what happens to her. We see her fall in love, be consumed with enough hatred to attempt murder, we learn what she believes in and is willing to fight for and we see a compassionate side of her.

I’m not going to lie – I didn’t enjoy this book much. I found the book very long and really confusing. There were several reasons why I was confused for most of the time and didn’t really like the book:

  • The names were very similar – this meant for me they didn’t stick in my mind! I found that some of the characters popped into the story at different points and I couldn’t remember who they were or what part of story they came from
  • There were a lot of unnecessary chapters, that I felt didn’t add to the story – such as the chapter where some of the university students go to the Philosophy Club
  • I thought that Maguire tried to put in lots of issues, but none of them were resolved. Elphaba feels strongly about the Animals – animals with the ability to talk and act like humans – and how badly they are being treated. This is one of the reasons she rebels and starts campaigning for them. However, she doesn’t see this through and has a breakdown and ends up spending several years in a convent. The issue of Animal Rights is bearly touched on again. This is the same with religion. Elphaba’s Father was a priest for the Unnamed God but Elphaba didn’t believe in that – she didn’t even think she had a soul. This is mentioned several times but never thought through. I felt that Maguire should have chosen one issue and seen it to completion – not dipping into several and leaving them unfinished
  • I thought the book too long to get going. If I hadn’t been reading this for our book club I would have put it down after 50 pages. I thought the first 200 pages could have been skipped. They were dull in my opinion and fairly confusing. The book was dense and long
  • The book was broken up into 4 parts but there were large time jumps between each part and it took a few pages before we learnt where we were now, which I didn’t like. It meant characters just appeared with no explanation and it left gaps in the story

There were some things I did enjoy about the book. I really like Elphie by the end. I liked her determination and wit. I also admired how she sought redemption at the end of the book. I thought the ending was very clever – and leaves the book open. I thought the last 200 pages were exciting and a good read – it was a shame I had to endure the first 300 pages to get there!

The rating for this book at the book club ranged from 2 out of 10 to 8 ot of 10. The general consensus was that this book is too long and very confusing. It made for good conversation but only one person liked it. We found that there were parts some of us remembered that others had forgotten and parts some had understood and others hadn’t! None of us will be reading the rest of this series.

I was surprised how different the musical is. In the musical Glinda – who is seen on the front cover of the book – and Elphaba are much closer and she features more in the show. However, in the book she isn’t a main character. It is the same with Nessarose, Elphie’s sister. The musical is light hearted and fun – this book wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed the show and am looking forward to seeing it again, but I didn’t really like this book.

I’m rating this 3 out of 5 because there were some parts of the book I enjoyed and because it isn’t the worst book I’ve read this year. However,  I don’t think I will be recommending it to anyone.

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Paperback, library book
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Wendy Everly can barely remember what it was like to feel like a normal girl. She’d wished for her life to be different but everything is so much more complicated than she’d expected. And she certainly hadn’t dreamt she’d be getting married at eighteen to a man she didn’t love – all for the sake of duty.

As the big day approaches, Wendy can’t stop thinking about two different men – and neither of them are her husband-to-be. Finn – quiet, strong and determined to do what’s right, and Loki – dark and seductive, a sworn enemy who once saved her life. With all-out war just days away, Wendy needs to act quickly if she is to save her friends and family. But while her loyalties and duties are to her people, deeper passions are leading her elsewhere.

And as her worlds collide, Wendy must sacrifice everything she loves to save them. But will it be enough?

This is the third and final book in the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking. I have really enjoyed this series; they are well worth reading! In fact, I have lent my copy of Switched to a lady in my book club – I hope she likes it!

This story follows WendyEverly, a young adult who a few months ago was a normal girl; but now she is a troll princess and has to face huge dangers to protect her people. She must make sacrifices, such as marrying her friend Tove whom she doesn’t love, to make sure if she dies the kingdom has a strong, wise king to protect them. The danger comes from her father, the King of the Vittra tribe. Her mother, the Queen is slowly dying and the King wants to take over her tribe and be super powerful. Wendy must do all she can to save her kingdom but the king is ruthless and not afraid to slaughter people. But admist all this, Wendy is also struggling with her emotions – there are 2 guys fighting for her heart and neither are Tove, her future husband. What will she do?

I have loved this series so far, but this book let me down a little bit. The focus seemed to shift from saving her people to her boy troubles. That said, there were some great action scenes and I enjoyed reading about how Wendy felt the need to protect her people and go and help others who were in trouble. I guess what I disliked the most was there were not any consequences to her actions. The night before her wedding she makes out with Finn, then she marries Tove, but doesn’t consummate the marriage, then two weeks later sleeps with Loki. Yet when this comes out no one seems to have a problem with her and it isn’t addressed as a problem. In fact, once Wendy has defeated the Vittra she gets the marriage annulled but I felt that somewhere along the line she should have faced the consequences of having an affair.

There were scenes in this book I enjoyed. I liked how the Queen softened before her death and showed Wendy that she did love her. I loved that Matt – Wendy’s human brother – was with her the whole time. I liked the plotting, the need to help others and I enjoyed the climax when Wendy met the Vittra king. This is a good fantasy novel, with action and adventure – just too much of a love story too.

I didn’t have a favourite character to be honest. I really disliked the king, but apart from him no one stood out as sparking much emotion in me. I guess I didn’t like Wendy much due to her actions with Finn, Tove and Loki, but I did enjoy reading about her stepping into the role of Queen.

I read this book in a day – like the other ones, however I didn’t enjoy this one as much and actually felt a little let down by it. That said, this is a good young adult fantasy series. There are trolls, both beautiful and stubby; there are magical powers; there is love and romance; plus action and fighting.

 

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Katie’s Reading:

Currently Reading

I am still reading:

The Cookbook For A New Europe by Richard Segal

To serve society or humanity? It’s been fourteen years since the basketball-mad detective Fran Obrien captured the urban bomber Lavi, who has since moved to Spain and rehabilitated himself beyond recognition. Fran is fresh off a two-year sabbatical, during which he tended to 11-year-old Ben, the family comedian, and 17-year-old Alice, with, yes, as much attitude as you’d expect. His estranged boss Karl has retired and Fran must learn to deal with the new brass – no small task itself. His first assignment is to investigate an act of alleged political corruption which seems more wild goose chase than duck in a barrel, leading him to question his decision to return to work. After an extended-family culinary expedition to Budapest, Fran’s nine-to-five job takes him ‘almost’ to Albany and to Central America, where he must untangle the mother of all webs. His wife, local family doctor Darby, goes along for the ride, and, oh, piña coladas “to die for.” For a detective and amateur gourmet chef like no other, Cookbook for a New Europe is a ride Fran certainly didn’t expect. He’s been fiercely focused for years, but a spate of unintended yet momentous events unfolds once he gives free rein to his emotions, and his recipes.

I’m only about 60 pages further on than I was last week! I am just waiting for the story to get going really. However, Fran is back in the USA after having been to Hungary to visit family and is about to start work again so I’m looking forward to how the story will develop. I’m still struggling a little with how it is written but hopefully I will get used to it.
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

A rural idyll: that’s what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and her dream is to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you’re no longer just here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbors, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that’s before the arrival of Catherine’s sister, Bryony.

I haven’t even picked this book up since last week – hopefully I’ll get to it over the weekend.
The other books I’m reading are Christian books. I dip in and out of these and use them as Bible study tools. They are:

Last Week’s Reading

This week I only finished one book:

Bestselling author Stormie Omartian inspires women to develop a deeper relationship with their husbands by praying for them. This encouraging resource is packed with practical advice on praying for specific areas of a husband’s life including his decision-making fears spiritual strength role as father, leader faith and future

Every woman who desires a closer relationship with her husband will appreciate the life illustrations, select Scripture verses, and the assurances of God’s promises and power for their marriage.

This book covers a whole range of issues which might occur in a marriage and ways to work through them and cling to God at the same time. I found this helpful and I will be able to dip in and out of this book in the future

Kirsten’s Reading:

Currently Reading

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

I am just about to start reading ‘The Winter Ghosts’ by Kate Mosse, which was lent to me by a friend, who read it recently and said that she enjoyed it. I’m excited to start reading and will review it when I’m done.

The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson’s case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. He stumbles through woods, emerging in a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.

Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward

This week I also intend to read ‘Lover Reborn’ by J. R. Ward. This is the tenth book in a series called ‘The Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series. I have read the entire series thus far and really love it. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a group of warrior vampires who all live and fight together against their enemies, the ‘Lessers’. Each book tells a love story about each of the brothers. This is not vampire fiction like you’ve read before as it doesn’t follow the conventional myths of vampirism – but do not fear, they don’t sparkle! I cannot wait to read this latest offering from the wonderful J. R. Ward.

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Now back in the Brotherhood – and unrecognisable as the vampire leader he once was –Tohrment is physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair. When he begins to see his beloved in his dreams – trapped in a cold, isolating netherworld – Tohr turns to a self-serving fallen angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost. When he’s told he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed . . . Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past, and a very hot, passion-filled future . . . but can his heart let go and set all of them free?

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

 I bought this in a charity shop the other day. I’ve heard that it is supposed to be good and I am trying to read more classics and so decided to give it a go. Looking forward to seeing what it’s like.

Set in turn-of-the-century New York, Edith Wharton’s classic novel The Age of Innocence reveals a society governed by the dictates of taste and form, manners and morals, and intricate social ceremonies. Newland Archer, soon to marry the lovely May Welland, is a man torn between his respect for tradition and family and his attraction to May’s strongly independent cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska. Plagued by the desire to live in a world where two people can love each other free from condemnation and judgment by the group, Newland views the artful delicacy of the world he lives in as a comforting security one moment, and at another, as an oppressive fiction masking true human nature. The Age of Innocence is at once a richly drawn portrait of the elegant lifestyles, luxurious brownstones, and fascinating culture of bygone New York society and a compelling look at the conflict between human passions and the social tribe that tries to control them.

Last Week’s Reading

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

I have just finished reading a book called ‘The Calling’ by Kelley Armstrong which is the second book in what is to be a trilogy called ‘Darkness Rising’. I really enjoyed this book and read it in literally a matter of hours. I have read the first book in the trilogy as well and cannot wait for the concluding instalment. I would definitely recommend this, and other books by this author, to anyone who enjoys reading ‘Paranormal/Fantasy’ fiction. Four stars!

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

I have also not long finished a book called ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ by Ann Radcliffe. It took me quite a long time to read this book as it was very long and very dense (and I stopped a couple of times to read other things)! The book is a classic ‘Gothic Horror/Ghost Story’. It is very suspenseful and has true thriller moments. A good read if you have the patience to endure it and, as far as I was concerned, well worth the slog.

With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine’s inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt’s new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni’s threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

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Review written by Kirsten!
Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival

After a great uprising that happened years before this book is set, the twelve districts of Panem are pitted against one another in an annual event known as ‘the Hunger Games’, for the entertainment of the elite population of the ‘Capitol’. In the first installment of this dystopian fantasy trilogy we follow the female contestant from District Twelve, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is dragged from her simple and impoverished life in the slums of District Twelve and thrown into the cut and thrust of the Hunger Games and the fame that comes from being a contestant. As she is caught up in the fast paced action surrounding the games she soon learns that her whole life is just a ‘game’ in the eyes of the Capitol and that to get anywhere, she has to play along.

I really enjoyed this book as I found the world, created by Suzanne Collins, amazingly intricate in detail yet deeply disturbing. The book is very well written and has a gripping plotline that left me wanting to know what would happen next – fortunately there are two books that follow.

As for the characters, I found the awkward nature (unusual for a protagonist) of Katniss rather fascinating as it lent itself very much to the portrayal of her as the unexpected heroine. I also found that the characters of the Capitol members were well placed as they were written as humorous caricatures of elite society, which added an amusing and ridiculous note to the book.

I thought this book was really well written and, even though it is set in a fictional dystopian world, many of the themes that Collins deals with (such as love or politics) have a universality which makes the world of Panem, and the lives of the characters, more accessible to readers in today’s society. I think Collins does well in taking the controversial nature of the dystopian genre of fiction and makes it more mainstream and easier to grasp.

The Hunger Games is classified as ‘Teenage/Young Adult’ fiction but I think that the genre and the writing style lend themselves to a much wider audience. It was a brilliant read and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

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Addition: Review e-book from Netgalley

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

A sickly mom. A tiny house trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guy dudes with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there’s that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil. Geez. Welcome to the sad, funny, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who’s struggling to keep her and her mom’s act together in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. An electrical zap from a TV antenna sets off Allie’s weird psychic powers. The next thing she knows she’s being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town “witch,” gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a good-hearted “Star Seeker” is meant to command. “Who, me?” is Allie’s first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she’s got a destiny to live up to. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.

I really enjoy young adult, fantasy novels. I loved the Twilight series, the Iron Fey series and I’m currently enjoying the Trylle series. This book had a lot of pressure on it, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

This is a review book from Netgalley and is the first book in the Unbidden Magic series by Marilee Brothers. The star of the book is Allie – a normal girl who receives magical powers after getting an electric shock. She has mind control powers – something she discovers when she stops a bull from trampling her just be thinking “please stop” in a panic. She is visited by a guardian angel, who seems more hippy than angel, who tells her of her power and about a prophecy. Later, she is given a beautiful pendant – a moonstone pendant – by her friend Kizzy. With it comes responsibilty and power – but also jealously and danger. She soon learns that people are greedy and will try and steal the stone; and some are evil, her arch enemies, who want the moonstone for disaster. She has to learn to fight, to use her power and to trust those close to her.

This was a good book. I am reminded a little of Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly Series, where Harper is struck by lightening and develops physic powers. This novel has excitement, danger, humour and love. We have heroes and villians and a plot that is fast paced and engaging. Very quickly into the book key events happen – Allie received the electric shock and meets her guardian angel – and the story moves on and develops at a good rate. I didn’t lose interest in this book, it kept me reading as I wanted to know what was going to happen. I liked that there were other stories running alongside the main story of the moonstone. We learnt about Allie’s Mum and the life they were living. We saw how events changed her Mum and the attitude she had to life. We also met Allie’s Father, a man she knew nothing about and at the end of the book we learnt about the significance he is going to have in the following books. There is of course a love story as well. Allie meets Junior – an ex-gang member who has reformed his ways and is intent on looking out for her.

I liked Allie. She was smart, quick-witted and when she needed to be, fearless. I loved that even though her Mum drove her insane, she was prepared to fight for her and their lives. I really liked Kizzy, a lady the children all thought was a witch. She was caring and loving towards Allie. I found Junior an interesting character. For an ex-gang member he was awwfully nice! I like a book with villians too – I like a book where the characters spark reactions from me, and this book had just that. I didn’t like Revelle, the guy who wanted to use the moonstone for evil and I didn’t like Carmel, Kizzy’s daughter, who wanted the moonstone for greed. Neither of them were nice and both of them bothered me!

This was an enjoyable book and I will definiately be reading the next book in the series. This is a young adult fantasy novel which I really enjoyed. It was gripping – I wanted to know what Allie was going to face and how she would overcome things; I liked the characters – they were engaging, even if I didn’t like some of them; and it had everything I want in a book: excitement, adventure, a good plot and good characters. This isn’t a hard read but it was enjoyable. There were some things that were predictable, but it was a good read nevertheless and I’m looking forward to book 2!

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINTS SPOILERS!
Addition: Review paperback

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn’t until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might’ve been telling the truth.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed – and it’s one she’s not sure if she wants to be a part of.

This is the first book in The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking and the series has a been a great hit in America. I received this as a review book from Think Jam. The novel was released on 5th January 2012 in the UK and is available on Amazon as a paperback and in a Kindle version.

The story follows Wendy; a girl with a very traumatic past. At the age of 6 her mother tries to kill her, claiming that she is not her daughter and that she is evil and a monster. Her mother is taken away to a psychiatric hospital and Wendy is raised by her brother Matt and her aunt Maggie. Wendy has never really fitted in, has always caused trouble and never settled at school. She has recently changed schools and her world is turned upside down when the weird boy who keeps staring at her – Finn Holmes – appears outside her bedroom window at 3am. What is particularly strange about this is that her bedroom is not on the ground floor. Earlier that evening they had been at the school dance and whilst dancing together Finn had said some horrid things. Upset by him, she uses the mind control powers that she has to persuade another classmate to drive her home. Finn realises what Wendy has done so turns up in the night to confront her and take her home – to the land of Trylle. It seems her mother had been right, Wendy is not of this world. It turns out she is a troll – not the kind you imagine hiding under bridges, but a beautiful, powerful woman, who is remarkably like a human. She does not want to leave Matt and Maggie and does not believe Finn until a few nights later she is attacked by trolls from a different tribe, who want to kidnap her. Rescued by Finn, she agrees to leave and to set up life as a troll. What she finds when she gets there completely surprises her – life is not what she imagined. She is the Princess, switched at birth to a wealthy family so that she will get a good education and a trust fund. All seems to be going well, until at her debutant ball her home is attacked, and they are after her…

I really enjoyed this book, in fact I read all of it this morning, in one sitting! It is not a long book – only 280ish pages long. The story is easy to follow, and very enjoyable. My favourite character was probably Matt. I loved how much he loved Wendy. He named her when she was born as their parents didn’t want her, and he has spent his life protecting her. I found Wendy an interesting character – and depending with who she was with, depended on what I thought about her! I found myself feeling sorry for her when she was with the Queen – her real mother – but when she was with Finn or Rhys – the human she was swapped with, I wasn’t so keen on her as she seemed to lead them both on. Finn had to grow on me too, as he was so hot and cold. I found that very frustrating!

Switched reminds me of both The Iron Fey Series and the Twilight Series. It reminded me of Twilight because of the house Wendy was taken too. Although the house in Switched is a lot bigger it was very modern – not what you would expect in this sort of novel – like in Twilight. I was reminded of the Iron Fey series for a number of reasons: – the lead character growing up in the human world; – the tracker being at school, like Puck; – and the lead character falling for the wrong guy, like Meghan falling for Puck.

This book is full of adventure, tense moments – the sort of “what is going to happen next” moments, a romance and a great plot. This is a young adult book, but such an enjoyable read anyway. I wasn’t keen on the swearing, especially as this is a young adult novel, but fortunately there wasn’t too much of that. This is a great book – it kept me gripped, and I’m still reflecting on it later on in the day. I will definiately be looking out for the next book in the series! This is well worth reading – especially if you like series like The Iron Fey Series.

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Addition: Review e-book from Netgalley

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review:

This is number four in the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa – and although perhaps not as good as the others, still a great read. I have been waiting what seems like an age for this book, and squealed when I received an email telling me it was available from Netgalley. This time the book is written from Ash’s point of view, not Meghan’s and we follow his story – barely getting a glance at what was happening in the Iron Realm. At the end of book three Meghan banishes Ash for his own safety – as fey he can’t survive in the Iron Realm. Yet he made her a promise: to be her knight. He loves her and is determined to keep this promise and the only way to do that is to become human. There is only one way to do this – go to the End of the World and complete the tasks. With the aid of Puck, Grim, the Big Bad Wolf and a seer, Ash sets off; but will he succeed? And if he does, will Meghan still love him?

I really enjoyed this book – although I missed Meghan. She does feature in the story, but not heavily. We walk with Ash and only glimpse Meghan and her world occasionally. I found this book to be more graphic and gory than the others – there seems to be more bloodshed in this adventure. Yet the book was exciting and fast paced. There doesn’t seem to be a dull moment in this story – once one foe is defeated, another seems to come along quite quickly. There is a lot of energy in this book which kept me hooked.

All the way through this series I have been Team Ash – and that didn’t change in this book either. It was nice to get a better look at Ash, although at times that was a touch heartbreaking. One trial he has to go through is examining his conscience and relieving everything he had ever done – all the hurt he had caused people. There were a few incidents described and it was sad that Ash is not the perfect prince I imagined him to be. This was an honest portrayal though and we saw his struggle with the anger and hate that come from being part of the Unseelie Court.

I loved Puck as well. Although I was always rooting from Ash, I loved that Puck stuck around and was there to help Ash because he loved Meghan so much. He is funny and kept me entertained throughout the book. There were other characters I liked too – Grim is fabulous. He is sarcastic, clever and I love how when trouble arises he vanishes! The Big Bad Wolf was entertaining too – I enjoyed the attitude between him and Grim.

There is a big surprise halfway through the book that I wasn’t expecting. It added to the book and Ash’s torment and made for some great reading! I won’t add in a spoiler but suffice to say – it was good and added another dimension to the story.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the book – I missed Meghan – she is a key character and we didn’t see a lot of her – and Kagawa’s writing seemed different – simple and sometimes not completely engaging. However, the good completely overthrows the bad, and this is a great read and a great instalment to this series.

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