Mask of Shadows Book Review

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)Synopsis: 

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

My review: *I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

When it comes to fantasy books I either love them or hate them. In the case of Mask of Shadows I loved it.

It’s a gripping and fast paced read. I loved the plot line and found it really interesting. I’ve heard a few comments about it being ripped off from Sarah J Maas or Suzanne Collins but in my opinion it is not. There’s only so much variation in a genre. Also remember the Hunger Games was accused of being a copy of Battle Royal (pretty sure that was the title) therefore that aspect does not bother me. Mask of Shadows has it’s own unique world and characters.

Sal is a really interesting character. Their motivations through the story were very clear and drove the story on.

This book was not perfect but overall Mask of Shadows is a strong opening to a new duology that I look forward to continuing.

4/5 stars


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Contagion by Teri Terry Book Review

Image result for contagion teri terry cover

Synopsis: URGENT! An epidemic is sweeping the country. You are among the infected. There is no cure; and you cannot be permitted to infect others. You are now under quarantine. The very few of the infected who survive are dangerous and will be taken into the custody of the army. Young runaway Callie survived the disease, but not the so-called treatment. Her brother Kai is still looking for her. And his new friend Shay may hold the key to uncovering what truly happened. From the author of the international sensation Slated comes the first book in a powerful new story of survival and transformation; love and power.

My Review: Teri Terry has become one of my favourite authors through the Slated trilogy. So when I saw Contagion up for request on NetGalley how could I resist.

Teri Terry certainly doesn’t disappoint. Contagion is a strong opening to an exciting new series.

I thought I knew where the book was going when I read the synopsis. However, Contagion was an unpredictable story that made me keep turning the pages.

The story follows Shay as she tries to help Kai find his younger sister who went missing a year before. But, their priorities soon change as a deadly flu starts to sweep through Scotland.

I’m a bit of a sucker for a good old deadly plague and Contagion delivers a great plague setting. However the book doesn’t become over whelmed by this story line but focuses more on the characters and origins of the flu.

The story is split between two character perspectives. The short chapters work really well, often showing one scene through two pairs of eyes. Shay and Callie, who are the those two pairs of eyes, are the main characters. I really liked the character of Shay. She wasn’t overly brave and strong, but these imperfections are what made her character feel more real.

My one grumble is the relationship between Kai and Shay. It isn’t even a spoiler to say that they are together because it happens from page 1. It was far too quick. It felt off and annoyed me through the first third of the book. About half way through would have been a better point for them to actually become a couple.

Overall, Contagion is a brilliant start to a new trilogy that I cant wait to keep reading. Especially after the nice cliffhanger ending, thanks Teri for that one.


4/5


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I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Synopsis: “Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”

As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead ‘carry on singing’. Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir”, the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit — a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past — we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life.


My Review:  Set in 1940’s war torn England, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir  tells the tale of the women who are left behind when the men go off to join the war effort. This is simply a beautiful read, showing the lives of these different women and girls through letters and diary entries.

The setting of the small English town was perfectly created. The characters were superbly written. Each one had a unique voice and tale. Jennifer Ryan managed to weave all the character’s tales together in a way that flowed perfectly.

The heartbreak from the cost of war is balanced out by the determination that the Ladies of Chilbury show to carry on. The characters draw you in and make you feel everything that they do. From young Silvie, who has fled from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, to Mrs Tilling who is trying to cope with her son  being sent to war, their struggles and their voices spring off the page.

The story has a little bit of everything. There are quite a few dramatic story lines, however they work.

My only issue is that the diary entries and letters had too much dialogue to be genuine. This is only a small thing that I noticed after I’d finished reading the book. To actually tell the story, the dialogue between characters was needed so it could not really have been done any other way.

Overall, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a touching story that I’d highly recommend.


4.5/5 stars


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Disclaimer – I received a copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith Book Review

Synopsis: What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an ageing Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiance, is a fine man from a neighbouring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
 


My Review: Firstly, a thank you to David Meredith for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White is not normally my genre of book. I’ve read very few fairy tale retellings, but when asked if I’d be interested in writing a review the synopsis did intrigue me.

The book shows what happens after ‘happily ever after’ has finished. After Charming’s death Snow White is lonely. And she is reminded of this as her daughter prepares for her own wedding. Snow White just can’t quite get to grips with the fact that he’s gone, which is the central theme of the book’s beginning.

In an attempt to avoid everyone who could remind her of Charming, Snow White wanders around the castle and eventually finds the ‘magic mirror’. David Meredith takes a new approach to the magic mirror from the fairy tale. The mirror acts like any other, it shows the reflection of a person. However, it wouldn’t be a magic mirror without the fact that it does this through visions of the person’s past. I did really like the way the book went through the mirror to show Snow White’s past and what happened to her after the fairy tale. It was an interesting way to tell the story which did keep me reading on.

I read The Reflection’s of Queen Snow White in one sitting as it is quite a short book. And that’s where the downside of this book lies. It feels a little rushed towards the end. There were more areas that could have been explained and explored. It felt almost like this was book was showing excerpts of a longer book. Although, I did enjoy the concept I would have liked a little more padding to the story.

Overall, The Reflection’s of Queen Snow White has an interesting plot and good elements to it. However, it felt like there were a few aspects missing.


3/5 Stars


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