Fantasy romance

The Final Strife

The Final Strife

Author: Saara El-Arifi Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.

Star Books
Saint Death's Daughter

Saint Death's Daughter

Author: C. S. E. Cooney Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved. To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be... rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous Lanie Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life. To make matters worse, family debt looms - a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans...

Gallant

Gallant

Author: V. E. Schwab Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/03/2022

From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and A Darker Shade of Magic comes a standalone novel where The Secret Garden meets Stardust. Fourteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she's never met, her father's older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don't go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…

House of Sky and Breath

House of Sky and Breath

Author: Sarah J. Maas Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/02/2022

Sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller. Sarah J. Maas's sexy, groundbreaking CRESCENT CITY series continues with this second installment. Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar have made a pact. As they process the events of the Spring they will keep things ... platonic ... until the Solstice. But can they resist when the crackling tension between them is enough to set the whole of Crescent City aflame? And they are not out of danger yet. Dragged into a rebel movement they want no part of, Bryce, Hunt and their friends find themselves pitted against the terrifying Asteri - whose notice they must avoid at all costs. But as they learn more about the rebel cause, they face a choice: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight. And they've never been very good at staying silent. In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode - and the people who will do anything to save it.

A River Enchanted

A River Enchanted

Author: Rebecca Ross Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Sarah J Maas's Crescent City meets Uprooted in acclaimed YA author Rebecca Ross's brilliant first adult fantasy. Enchantments run deep on the magical Isle of Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armour, and the smallest cut of a knife can instil fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that live there find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home, but that mischief turns to malevolence as girls begin to go missing. Adaira, heiress of the east, knows the spirits only answer to a bard's music, enticing them to return the missing girls. But there's only one bard capable of drawing the spirits forth by song: her childhood enemy Jack Tamerlaine. He hasn't stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university, but as Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than first thought and an older, darker secret lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

The Coldest Touch

The Coldest Touch

Author: Isabel Sterling Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

Billed as a paranormal romance for young adults, a missing person and a murder mystery theme sit centre stage, and actually friendship plays a key part in this novel. Elise can see how everyone she touches will die, the Veil sends vampire Claire to help Elise grow into her powers. Isabel Sterling has created a supernatural world championing LGBTQ characters, and it feels beautifully organic and straightforward, people (or vampires) are who they are. The two main characters narrate their own story ensuring a wider overview of thoughts and feelings. The vampire threat of compulsion is handled thoughtfully as is the theme of consent. Murder, violence, greed, and obviously death are major topics, the romance doesn’t exactly take a back seat, but it feels as though the author has so much to say, that there are times when the plot bubbles with all the different possibilities. I was fascinated by some of the supporting characters and wanted to know more about them. I felt as though there was still more to discover when I reached the end, is this the start to a new series? The Coldest Touch is a readable, engaging story perfect for paranormal loving older teens searching for LGBTQ centred characters.

eBooks of the Month
Midnight in Everwood

Midnight in Everwood

Author: M.A. Kuzniar Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Deliciously rich and dark, this reimagining of The Story of a Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas is loaded with recognisable elements yet is as delightfully individual as can be. Set in Nottingham in 1906 ballerina Marietta’s family have proclaimed that she should stop dancing and take her place in society, when she meets neighbour Dr Drosselmeier she is thrown into a new world full of magic. This is the debut adult novel by M. A. Kuzniar, she draws enchantment and menace together and allows them to walk hand in hand. The beauty and strength of friendship sits centre stage while a relationship slowly blossoms. This most definitely isn’t a sugary sweet confection, a hint of the nightmare echoes through the pages. The traditional dark elements of folklore and fairytale scuttle and scurry with a fabulously modern edge. The characters crackle with energy, the setting sparkles with light and shade, and the ending, oh, that ending! Potently sharp and beautifully magical, Midnight in Everwood dances in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Robinson Book of the Month.

Debut Books of the Month
Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Iron Widow

Iron Widow

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/09/2021

* Instant New York Times No.1 Bestseller * Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me. I choose vengeance. The boys of Huaxia dream of the celebrity status that comes with piloting Chrysalises - giant transforming robots that battle the aliens beyond the Great Wall. Their female co-pilots are expected to serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, her plan is to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But on miraculously emerging from the cockpit unscathed after her first battle, she is declared an Iron Widow - the most feared pilot of all. Now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she sets her sights on bigger things. The time has come to stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Red Tigress

Red Tigress

Author: Amélie Wen Zhao Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2021

Fans of Children of Blood and Bone will love the sequel to Blood Heir. The second book in an epic fantasy series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to liberate her empire from a dark reign. Ana Mikhailov is the only surviving member of the royal family of Cyrilia. She has no army, no title, and no allies, and now she must find a way to take back the throne or risk the brutal retribution of the empress. Morganya is determined to establish a new world order on the spilled blood of non-Affinites. Ana is certain that Morganya won't stop until she kills them all. Ana's only chance at navigating the dangerous world of her homeland means partnering with Ramson Quicktongue again. But the cunning crime lord has schemes of his own. For Ana to find an army, they must cross the Whitewaves to the impenetrable stone forts of Bregon. Only, no one can be certain what they will find there. A dark power has risen. Will revolution bring peace - or will it only paint the streets in more blood?