September Releases I’m Drooling Over!

September is the month of many releases!


Trial by Fire

    The Scavengers


Words and Their Meanings


The Iron Trial

    Falling Into Place


Dragons at Crumbling Castle (A preview story was released August 7th: The Abominable Snowman. I think this is one of the story’s contained within the full book, but I’m not sure. Sadly, the preview short story isn’t free.) If you happen to know who the cover artist is please let me know! It looks a lot like Roald Dahl’s books so I’m hoping it is Quentin Blake!)


I’ll Give You the Sun


 (This one’s being promoted as Sherlock meets Dr Who. I’m not a major fan of either, but this still looks good. And the cover is such an awesome shade of blue!)


Skink No Surrender [Skink #7] My Review here

           The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

A boarding school murder mystery!


More Fool Me

The third volume in Stephen Fry’s memoir series (I think). #stephenfryfangirl


The tale of a young woman writing and publishing her first novel. It includes a lot of details about the publishing process apparently, so that is the biggest draw for me. It also includes the book the main character is writing which is a paranormal thriller. And it’s Scott Westerfeld, author of the Peeps duology! [Parasite Positive and Last Days].


Lies We Tell Ourselves

This is about a white girl and a black girl falling in love in the middle of the racial segregation in 1959, America. I’ve read a sample and it is BRUTAL.


I wasn’t sold on this until I read the sample. Now I want it badly!


A Nutcracker retelling.

Review: Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout


“Dying sucks
…and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand.
After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things–including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden’s adopted father, a man she’s sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister’s hand again. And hell, she’d also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn’t?But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may no have been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.For real this time.”
Thanks to BookBridgr and Hodder and Stoughton for the copy! 🙂
The most I can say about Cursed is that it’s ok. Nothing in it really surprised me, it fell kind of flat, to be honest. I’d guessed things a long time before they were revealed, the romance seemed entirely based on lust, and I didn’t connect well with Ember.
My favourite character was Phoebe, purely because she had some depth. Olivia was very well done but I felt like her storyline was unresolved. Ember was just ok. Hayden was just ok.
As for the plot, well it started off great, went through a boring patch in the middle, and then picked up a bit again at the end. The best part was the opening few chapters. There wasn’t enough explanation for some things and other things were mentioned and then just left.
The writing style… It’s hard to explain what I thought here… The images in my head were vivid and somewhat immersive, and there were a few lines I really liked. On the other hand, it isn’t the best-written book ever. And there were a few lines or words that made me cringe. There were some uncomfortable parts, for sure.
This book reminds me of something I might have watched as a TV series in the afternoons as a child. Not a particular show, but just the general feel. Kind of juvenile, the dangers don’t feel all that threatening etc.
You may want to check this one out if you like the idea of kids with superpowers, but there are any amount of books I’d recommend first.
Quality of Writing: 2 out of 5
Enjoyment Level: 2 out of 5
Emotional Depth: 3 out of 5
[Goodreads Rating: 2 out of 5 ]
*Plus kudos for being a standalone! [Standalones are rare and precious beasts!]
Other JLA Reviews from Shelf of Melanie: Obsidian [Lux #1] and Half-Blood [Covenant #1]
Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR?

Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout [Covenant #1]

“The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.”

Goodreads Description

Sadly, I DNF’d this one. It borrowed so much from two major series’ I just couldn’t keep reading. It was in the plot, the worldbuilding, even the characters.

It wasn’t original at all, even the main character, Alex, seemed such a generic, cardboard cut-out, type of character. I just didn’t find anything believable; there wasn’t any depth to it.

I loved JLA’s Obsidian (my review here), although I had issues with that one too, and I’m currently reading Cursed (review coming soon), which is also good so far. Both of those are quite original and I can connect with the characters and the world. I guess Half-Blood is a JLA book that just doesn’t do it for me.

There was one part I really liked, that will stay with me. I had such a good image of it in my head. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s in the first chapter and it talks about purple flowers. It’s just a brief image, but it was vivid for me.

Other than that, I’m sorry to say I don’t have much else to say about Half-Blood.

Look out for my Cursed review later this week.


Quality of Writing: 1 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 1 out of 5

Emotional Depth: Can’t rate as I didn’t get far enough in

[Goodreads Rating: 1 out of 5 ]

*Plus kudos for a gorgeous cover

Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR?

Review: The Shadow of War by Stewart Binns [The Great War #1]


“The Shadow of War is the first novel in Stewart Binns’s new series which will see a book release for each year of the First World War.

June 1914: the beginning of another long, prosperous summer for Britain. But beneath the clear skies, all is not as it seems – the chill wind of social discontent swirls around this sceptred isle.

Shots ring out in a distant European land – the assassination of a foreign aristocrat. From that moment the entire world is propelled into a conflict unlike any seen before.

This is the story of five British communities, their circumstances very different, but who will all share in the tragedy that is to come. All that they have known will be changed forever by the catastrophic events of the Great War.

This is a story of love and comradeship, of hatred and tragedy – this is the story of the Great War.

The Shadow of War, the first novel in The Great War series from Stewart Binns, is a thrilling read and perfect for those who enjoy the writing of Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to Goodreads and Penguin Books for the copy! 🙂

I didn’t get very far into this before giving up. I thought this was going to be a really awesome series, but as I started reading the Shadow of War I just felt like I was being lectured to by someone who was pretending not to lecture. I felt like the novel was a history textbook trying to be fictional. It was really difficult and uncomfortable to read.

There were so many characters, titles, regiments, places, battles etc thrown around in the first twenty or so pages . It was almost impossible to grasp anything. There were too many backstory facts every time a character was mentioned.

I loved that it opened in Wales, because I’m Welsh and I haven’t come across many books set in Wales. There’s even a bit in Newport (where I live)! So that was interesting, but the way the characters were depicted made me cringe, and again, I felt uncomfortable.

I spent most of the time I read this, uncomfortable. And confused.

I think this book is meant for WW1 history buffs, not the average joe.


Quality of Writing: 1 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 0 out of 5

Emotional Depth: Can’t rate since I didn’t really get far enough in

[Goodreads Rating: 1 out of 5]

Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR?

Review: Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen [Skink #7/ Standalone-ish]


“The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in Skink—No Surrender.

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for the copy! 🙂

I love Carl Hiaasen’s writing. He’s the author of Hoot, which I adored. You get a real feel for the area he’s describing; it’s like you’re there, it’s so vivid. You also get a great feel for the wildlife and how passionate about them the author must be.

Skink No Surrender is the latest in a series. There are six books already out. This one is due out September 23rd. I haven’t read the others and I didn’t feel like I’d missed anything when reading Skink No Surrender. I will definitely be chasing down the first six and devouring them ASAP though, because this book was FANTASTIC!

Hiaasen’s writing is so good, it just cocoons you in the story he’s telling. The characters were all well-developed, even the very minor ones. Everyone was interesting and had their own voice. And if anyone does quirky characters well, it’s Carl Hiaasen. The plot moved at just the right pace – it was fast enough to keep me hooked, but slow enough to let the scenery and the people develop well.

I genuinely don’t have anything negative to say about this. The synopsis for Hiaasen’s books never excites me that much, but when I pick them up and start reading, they’re awesome!

If you’ve never tried a Hiaasen novel, do pick one up. Even if you think it’s not your thing – the writing is so gripping, it’ll pull you in within a few pages. They are really easy books to get into and quick, short reads.

I recommend this book to people who want a book they can just sink into without much effort (I find some books I have to work at a bit before I really get into it and reading feels relaxing again; if you’re like this too, then I recommend Carl Hiaasen); and people who are after gorgeously depicted books about Florida and/or the wildlife found there. Oh, and if you like your characters quirky with a capital Q, you will love Skink, Malley and Richard.


Quality of Writing: 5 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 5 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 4 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 ]

*Plus kudos for amazing writing that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go

Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR?

Review: Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

“Unexpectedly discovering you have a superpower can lead to trouble, as 13-year-old Jessica Jenkins finds out in this exciting new adventure from BLUE PETER BOOK AWARD-shortlisted author, Liz Kessler.

Jessica Jenkins is missing…

Jessica Jenkins has always thought she was a perfectly ordinary girl, until the day that part of her arm vanishes in the middle of a Geography lesson! Her best friend Izzy is determined to help Jessica realise what a great opportunity the power to turn invisible could be, but where has her new ability come from? Does this mean she’s a superhero? And, when her friends are threatened, can Jessica use her superpower to help?

A wonderful new book from bestselling author Liz Kessler.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for the copy! 🙂

I requested this one because I loved Liz Kessler’s Emily Windsnap series. I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good as those, leave alone better, and I was right.

Jessica isn’t half as charismatic as Emily Windsnap. Her voice just didn’t capture me at all. I cared enough to worry when she was in trouble, but I was much more interested in her best friend, Izzy.

Liz Kessler’s writing is on the more juvenile end of the “middle grade” scale. Children will adore the magic and the characters accurate to their age range. (Jessica and her friends hanging out at a cafe and discussing Maths and Geography and things made me all nostalgic!). (If you’re in the US, Jessica and co are in Year Eight, which I think is equivalent to seventh grade.) I think younger children than 12/13 would enjoy this too though. They seem like they would be good to read aloud with a younger child.

The superhero aspect was ok. I wasn’t overly into the science-y stuff and if I found it confusing, I’m pretty sure a 12 year old would too. There was only one science-heavy scene that went over my head though. I got the basic concept of how it happened, but there was a bit of science-dumping. Also, I just wasn’t that into how it all happened.

Like I said, I loved Izzy, she was the highlight of this book for me. Smart, kooky, a bit left out. I loved her 🙂

I’d recommend this to those who are after child-friendly superhero books, a light and fun read for when you’re tired or ill, or just for a bit of nostalgia.


Quality of Writing:  3 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 3 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 1 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 3 out of 5]

*Plus kudos for an awesome sidekick!

Have you read this one? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR?

Review: Accession by Terah Edun

“Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, especially in a queen’s court, is as it seems.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to NetGalley and All Night Reads for the copy! 🙂

I’m a bit conflicted about Accession, if I’m honest, but I can’t help but add it to my ever-growing list of favourite books. I mean, there are were-peacocks and trolls and licorns and EVERYTHING you always wanted in a book but could never find!

I loved it for the sheer imaginative effort. I loved it for Katherine (she was a great character to read about). I loved it for the witches. I loved it for getting me hooked on witch books.

But here’s the thing. It was tough to read sometimes. It kept me hooked and I didn’t want to put it down, but the dialogue was sometimes very stilted. Especially when it was between Katherine and her mother. Also, it didn’t work as a book in its own right. I know it’s the first in a series, but it still has to function as a story on its own with beginning, middle and end. To me, there wasn’t nearly enough information and plot advancement. The ending wasn’t satisfying at all. It felt like the story just stopped. I hope the next one doesn’t take too long because it feels like I’m halfway through a book, rather than one book into a series.  So I will read the sequel because the world is so flipping awesome and I do want to know what happens as well.

I’d recommend this one if you’re after a really new take on fantasy creatures etc. Just be forewarned about the writing, and I would wait until you have the next one as well before starting, to be honest.


Quality of Writing: 2 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 3 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 2 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 3 out of 5 ]

*Plus kudos for a BRILLIANT imagination!

Have you read this one? What did you think? Is it on your TBR?