Saturday, 25 June 2016

"The Head of Medusa" (Elementals #3) by Michelle Madow

The Head of Medusa (Elementals, #3)The Head of Medusa by Michelle Madow
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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Thanks to Michelle Madow for giving me this ARC!

The Elementals series has been very up and down for me. The first novel did not really grab me, the second novel definitely wowed me, and 'The Head of Medusa' lies somewhere in between. There were elements of this book that I really, really loved - and there were elements that I really did not love. Luckily, Madow can always be relied upon to deliver a fast-paced novel with plenty of action, and that kept me intrigued enough to read until the end (and what an ending it was)!

I know that I can be picky with romance. I mean, I wrote a whole post on annoying romance tropes in YA novels. But, hey - all I am asking for is a little relationship development before characters confess their undying love for each other. In the first chapter of this novel, Nicole is already pining over how in love she is (yes, she used the word love after two seconds of dating). I feel that I have written this same criticism a hundred times for a hundred different authors, so I won't bore you all with another rant - suffice to say, instalove makes me go a little cuckoo.

Anyway, Nicole is by far the least engaging character in the Elementals line up. Kate and Danielle, in particular, really made this book for me. Kudos to Madow for writing some seriously strong female characters. Kate and Danielle are complex and entirely different to each other, but are nonetheless friendly and supportive of each other (even when they do not agree). Female friendships are often portrayed as being inherently competitive in nature, and Madow does not give credence to this damaging myth. All three of the Elementals girls back each other up, and I love it!

If Madow ever wrote an Elementals spin-off with Danielle as the MC, I would just throw money at her until she gave me a copy! I mean, Nicole and Blake totally screwed her over, and she still keeps her composure and outdoes them at every turn. Plus, she realises that the Elementals' powers were not bestowed upon them because they are intrinsically worthy, but because they were lucky. Nicole suffers from some serious Specialness at times, so Danielle's attitude is very refreshing.

'The Head of Medusa' was a little slow in the middle, which is very opposed to Madow's usual style. However, Madow absolutely makes up for it with a soul-destroying, heart-crushing ending! Honestly, I was completely shocked by how gutsy the ending was. Some pretty major problems occur for our beloved Elementals, and without giving anything away, I really hope that some of these problems do not resolve. I would love to see how Nicole handles angst, loss, and betrayal.

Overall, 'The Head of Medusa' is a nice addition to the Elementals series, with some engaging supporting characters and a shocking, amazing ending. I would recommend it to anyone who has already started with this series - it follows a similar structure to the previous novels, and thus will not disappoint!


Love as ever,
Grace Lucy

"The Portal to Kerberos" (Elementals #4) by Michelle Madow: COVER RELEASE!

Drum roll, please, ladies and gentlemen...

Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals 4: The Portal to Kerberos, is the latest installment in Michelle Madow’s exciting Elementals series. Follow Nicole and her fellow Elementals as they journey to a new and dangerous world to save one of their own, battling monsters and trying to keep their sanity in a prison dimension designed to make them lose their minds.

Title: Elementals 4: The Portal to Kerberos

Author: Michelle Madow

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing

Series: Elementals #4

Format: eBook and paperback


She will venture into hell to save the one she loves.

After being betrayed by one of their own, Nicole watches helplessly as Blake is snatched into the prison world of Kerberos—along with Medusa’s head, which is the one item they need to stop the Titans from rising again. Now Nicole and the other Elementals must enter the portal, find Blake, and bring him and Medusa’s head back to Earth before the deadly monster Typhon returns and wreaks havoc on the world. But there’s one catch—their elemental powers don’t work in Kerberos. In a dimension designed to make those within it lose touch with reality, and that's filled with dangerous creatures who want to stop them from completing their task, will they make it out alive?

In this penultimate book of Nicole’s story, join the Elementals as they journey through hell to save the world… before it’s too late.

Pre-order:  Amazon

The adventure began in the first book in the series, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows. To grab a copy of the first book for free, visit


Michelle is hosting a giveaway for a Kindle Fire! To enter the giveaway click here!

About the Author:

Michelle Madow writes fast-paced YA (young adult) fiction that will leave you turning the pages wanting more!

She grew up in Baltimore, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she writes books for young adults. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle went on a cross-country road trip from Florida to California and back to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

Visit her website,, to get books of Michelle's for FREE!

Connect with Michelle:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads
Love as ever,
Grace Lucy

I got a Bloglovin' account!

Ahoy ahoy,

Thanks for following/reading/accessing my blog, everyone. It really makes writing reviews much more fun when you all are so lovely to me *blushes*

A quick plug - if you could follow me on Bloglovin', I would really appreciate it. The Google+ follower system is a bit wacky, so this is an easy way for me to keep track of everything.

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Love as ever,

Grace Lucy

Sunday, 19 June 2016

"The Perfectionists" (The Perfectionists #1) by Sara Shepard

The PerfectionistsThe Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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Thank you to Allen & Unwin for giving me this book!

Ahh, Sara Shepard - I have such mixed feelings about her writing, in general. On one hand, 'The Perfectionists' had an interesting enough premise to keep me engaged. On the other hand, it follows Shepard's same standard plot line that she uses in all her novels - pretty girls with dark secrets (and a murder to boot).

One thing I loved about 'The Perfectionists' was the characterisation. Shepard made me feel like I knew the girls personally, which was quite a feat considering both how short the book is, and how many POVs were utilised. Yes, they all ascribed to some fairly cliche stereotypes (popular girl, athlete etc.), but I felt I understood the characters and their intentions more as the book progressed. Their voices were distinct, and I knew who was narrating each chapter almost straight away. To me, good characterisation is especially critical to writing a captivating contemporary novel, as grand settings and unique worlds are not able to 'make up' for less-developed characters.

Despite the quality characterisation, this novel's plot left a lot to be desired. Firstly, it seemed as though 'The Perfectionists' was merely a setup for the following book/s. Shepard introduces the characters, the setting, and the premise, but we do not really learn anything about the actual mystery. There are a few hints scattered throughout, sure, but nothing in the way of legitimate plot progression - which was disappointing. Some parts of the plot were downright unbelievable! However, knowing Shepard, these will likely be explained in later book/s, so I should not balk too much - (SPOILER: like how the counsellor mentioned that he knew Parker's story from Julie. Ever heard of patient confidentiality?!)

'The Perfectionists' is a tricky book to review, because most of its positives are also negatives. For example, how short it is - this was great, because I was basically able to read the whole thing in a two hour flight. It was also annoying, because of the limited plot progression and potential for more in-depth characterisation. The multiple POVs were great because we got to understand each of the girl's motivations and desires, but this also limited the story because there was more time spent on each of their personal thoughts than on the plot. I settled on 3.5 stars because I enjoyed reading 'The Perfectionists' and it had brilliant characterisation, but I had too many problems with it to give this book 4 stars.

Overall, this was a quick read with a fairly cookie cutter plot, but it had some genuinely intriguing characters. I would recommend it to someone who just wants to switch off for a few hours, and read something fast and light.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

"The Debt" by Karina Halle Cover Release!

We are very thrilled to bring to you the cover for THE DEBT by Karina Halle releasing on August 29.   

Pre-order it HERE:

     The Debt AMAZON

Her life changed in an instant. And he's the only one who could have prevented it. Jessica Charles shouldn't have even been in London when the unthinkable happened. She should have been back at home in Edinburgh, perhaps hanging with her boyfriend, preparing the baby shower for her sister, or teaching her yoga classes. She should have been going on in her normal, dependable life as always. But on that fateful day in August, when a mentally-ill ex-soldier opened fire in public, Jessica's world changed forever. Now single and crippled from the gunshot wounds, Jessica finds herself scared and alone, losing faith in herself and humanity with each agonizing moment that passes. That is until a stranger enters her life. A stranger who makes her live again. Keir McGregor has always been the strong, silent type. Throw in tall, dark, and handsome and you've got pretty much the perfect Scotsman. Except Keir is anything but perfect. He's got a past he's running away from and a guilty conscience he can't seem to shed. But the more time he spends with Jessica, the more he falls in love with her. And the more his secret threatens to tear them apart. He may have been a stranger to her. But she’s never been a stranger to him.   ADD TO GOODREADS  

The-Debtrelease            Halle Headshot

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books. Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK. Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more. 


Sunday, 12 June 2016

5 YA Romance Tropes that Need to Go

I have read a lot of YA novels - whether it's fantasy or contemporary; sci-fi or historical, I cannot get enough of YA fiction. However, when you read enough books, you start to notice that a lot of them contain the same old, tired plot points that you have read a thousand times before. Indeed, I am relatively sure that my number one criticism in 3-star or less reviews is that there was nothing unique or innovative about the story.

When we are talking about obvious, ho-hum tropes in YA fiction, no subplot gets it quite as wrong as romance. Almost all YA novels have some kind of romance in them these days, and an unfortunate majority of them seem to get it wrong in some way. Now, don't misunderstand me - there are plenty of amazing romance plots and sub-plots out there; A Court of Mist and Fury and The Wrath and The Dawn come to mind.
But since it seems that romance storylines are particularly irksome lately, I have written a list of my 5 least favourite romance tropes. These are the ones likely to make me put a book down quicker than you can say "he smirked."

#1: Insta-love
This one makes the top spot because it is as prevalent as it is unrealistic. You know the kind of story I'm talking about - our protagonist has hit chapter 3, and it's time to introduce some drama! We better make her run into an extremely attractive boy who has luscious locks and smirks far too often. Not only that, but she better feel an instant connection; the kind of connection that puts super glue and duct tape to shame. Next, they have to date for a week before confessing their undying love for each other, and nearly get killed trying to defend said love.

Yawn. If I have to read one more line like, "As the handsome stranger and I locked eyes, I felt a shiver down my spine; it was like our souls knew each other even though we had never met before," I will likely explode with rage. Yes, you can meet someone and think, "Damn, s/he's fine." However, there is a huge difference between thinking someone is attractive, and falling in love with them while bells ring and birds sing. It's unrealistic, and honestly, it's just lazy writing. It's far easier to say that they fell in love at first sight, than it is to write the intimate details of a complex and evolving relationship.

If you hate this too, you should read... A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

#2: Sex Negativity

This is where I get slightly political. YA has a real problem with sex - most of the iconic books in the genre avoid sex, or treat it as something that should be left until marriage. We are told that these characters can fall in love in two seconds, but that it's immoral or dangerous for them to sleep together because then real-life teenagers might have sex. Oh no! Not sex! It's not like teenagers do it all the time. It's not like our society has a bunch of problems because we treat sex as taboo, and therefore leave our young people uneducated as to the realities, both positive and negative, behind their desires. Yeah. Not at all.

Now, I am not saying that all YA books should be heavy erotica novels - they do not even necessarily have to have sex scenes - they just need to allow characters to explore their sexuality without demonisation (bonus points if the characters sleep with more than one person). Why? Firstly, because it's realistic - a lot of people lose their virginity when they are a teenager. Secondly, because it's dangerous to teach young people that sex is somehow dirty or impure - this leads to negative self-talk and slut shaming. YA has the potential to be a catalyst for change in the way we view sex - but not until the plot lines become much more progressive.

If you hate this too, you should read... Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, and What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler.

#3: Unnecessary Romances

Is it just me, or does every YA book these days have a romance subplot? You have this strong protagonist, fighting the forces of evil, kicking ass, a brilliant world, great plot - and for some reason, there's a love interest that doesn't quite fit into the story. Romances can be great, when they do not detract or distract from the central plot. It feels like there's someone out there in Publishing Land that says you cannot be published unless you have a mediocre romance forcefully shoved between the threads of an otherwise decent story.

More YA stories without romance, I say! There's more to life that can be explored in literature than love and romance - just ask every other genre out there.

If you hate this too, you should read... A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

#4: Forced Love Triangles

I am going to preface this one with a small, yet important, confession - I am a love triangle enthusiast. Anyone who has read my reviews will know that I love angsty romances, especially when there is some (real or imagined) obstacle preventing the pair from getting together. If that obstacle is another person, to whom our protagonist is genuinely attracted, then - great! Drama and conflict - I live for it, baby.

Love triangles become very trope-y (definitely a word) when the third person in the triangle presents no genuine threat to our main couple. I am pretty sure that's the  definition of a contrived and unnecessary plot device - and it forcefully throws me out of the world which I am sure the writer has worked so hard to create. Just another example of how lazy writing can ruin the potential brilliance of great ideas and stories.

If you hate this too, you should read... The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, Shadow and Bone (and the rest of the Grisha Trilogy as well) by Leigh Bardugo, and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

#5: Unequal Relationships

It was actually the amazing and hilarious twitter account @broodingYAhero that got me thinking about this one. Ever notice how many romance novels perpetuate sexist and abusive stereotypes? Like how a guy that is jealous and possessive is just 'protective' and 'in love', or how we let guys get away with fighting/cheating/flirting with other characters, but never the women? Or that relationships where you fight uproariously, and then get it on, are exceptionally healthy ones (not toxic at all), that will definitely last longer than a year?

Teaching young people that toxic relationships, usually based on physical attraction alone, are the gold standard to which we should be striving is incredibly damaging. Yes, there are people to whom you will be overwhelmingly attracted - that does not mean that you are meant to be together, or that you should settle for an unequal, potentially damaging relationship to placate them. Why is it that we talk about "strong" female protagonists, but often give them love interests that are in a position of power (prince/general/other generic boss position)? Let's stop perpetuating the ideas that a) emotional abuse is okay as long as the person is attractive, and b) it's only okay for women to be strong as long as they have a male counterpart to legitimise them.

If you hate this too, you should read... Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter, Prodigy by Marie Lu, and Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas.

Thanks for reading my little (okay, huge) rant, everyone! Let me know what you think - do you agree? Disagree? Little of both? Got any books you think avoid all five of these tropes really well? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me @gracelucyreads!

Love as ever,
Grace Lucy

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Happy June: Three YA Releases to Look Out For

Happy June, all you fabulous readers out there in the blogosphere! It's been far too long since I did a discussion type post, so I thought I would celebrate June by talking about my three most anticipated book releases for the month. It's a drizzly and bleak winter down here in Australia, meaning it is the perfect time to read - but hopefully you Northern Hemisphereans have time in your busy summer schedules to read a few brilliant new releases.

I have chosen three books from three different genres, so hopefully you can see a book that catches your fancy. I look forward to reviewing these books as they are released. Happy reading!

"The Head of Medusa" (Elementals #3) by Michelle Madow
Release date: June 29th, 2016
Madow brings a unique flair to Greek mythology in her Elementals series. Honestly, I do not think I have read another author with such a talent for fast-paced, action-packed urban fantasy. I managed to finish the first two Elementals novels in only a few hours each - and having just received an ARC for "The Head of Medusa", I am sure it will be inhaled in a similar manner. The ending of "The Blood of The Hydra" left me with many questions about what will happen to our beloved Elementals next, and that's why I have "The Head of Medusa" at the top of my June list.

I would recommend this book to... people who like fast-paced novels that go from action scene to action scene very quickly. People who like true Greek mythology, but with some unique twists. People who want a novel with multiple interesting characters, not just a story about a protagonist and her love interest.

"And I Darken" (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White
Release date: June 28th, 2016

It is no secret that I adore the historical fiction genre. Rich, lux backdrops with some of the most sublime writing possible? Sign me up. Combining historical fiction and high fantasy is a recipe for brilliance with the right writer, and if White's previous novels give us any indication, she is more than up to the job. With ARCs out there in the blogosphere, White's novel has received almost universally positive reviews. But, honestly, who would not adore a vengeance story about ousted royals that has been described as "dark" (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite words to read on a book cover)?

I would recommend this book to... people who like novels that combine historical accuracy with complex fantasy elements. People who like a bit of anti-hero in their protagonist. People who want a female lead who is not constantly described as being as beautiful as a runway model.

"Autofocus" by Lauren Gibaldi
Release date: June 14th, 2016
I have never read a book by Lauren Gibaldi, but she has a lot of diehard fans that make me think it is time to read one of her novels! Contemporary is a genre that I often struggle with, but after reading Gabriella's review, I was convinced to give this book a try. "Autofocus" surrounds an adopted girl's journey to discover her past in order to create her destiny, a plot line I think we can all relate to in some way - whether we were adopted or not.

I would recommend this book to... people who like stories with accurate depictions of the struggles and triumphs of friendships. People who like stories that do not have an obvious destination; stories that are more about the journey. People who like relatable and sympathetic protagonists.

Do you all agree? What's on your most anticipated June release list?

Love as ever,
Grace Lucy

"The Crown" (The Selection #5) by Kiera Cass

The Crown (The Selection, #5)The Crown by Kiera Cass
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Ah, The Selection. I have such mixed feelings about this entire series - seriously, I have reviews ranging between 2 and 5 stars for each of the individual books. Reading the ending to any series is bittersweet, and 'The Crown' was no exception. I think this book really solidified The Selection series in my mind as the indulgent reality TV show of the book world - you know it's bad for you, you know you shouldn't be reading it, but somehow you end up binge reading the whole series anyway.

My biggest problem with 'The Crown' was that there was nothing new - and I don't mean that I'd read a similar story by a different author, I mean that it basically followed the exact same plot line as the first three Selection books. An external threat to the crown? Check. A love triangle that has an obvious ending? Check. Last minute switch around of love interests? You better check it! Anyone who enjoyed America and Maxon's series will adore Eadlyn's... because it is exactly. The. Same.

If you read my review of 'The Heir', you will know that I loved Eadlyn - I thought she was a much stronger and more interesting protagonist than America. Part of what made me love Eadlyn was that she prioritised her career over romance, as so few YA protagonists seem to do so. In 'The Crown', she basically turns into a simpering schoolgirl, which seemed entirely out of character for her. Since the supporting characters in Eadlyn's time are nowhere near as intriguing as those in America's time, there is nobody to distract you from her sudden onset of blandness. If you cannot tell, I am very disappointed with this ending (I know, I am far too subtle).

However, I cannot say that I hated the whole book. 'The Crown' definitely had it's moments. I enjoyed the feminist critique that was scattered throughout the story:

"Don't you think you're being too emotional about this?"
I stood, my chair screeching behind me as I moved. "I'm going to assume that you aren't implying by that statement that I'm actually being too
female about this. Because, yes, I am emotional... My mother is in a bed with tubes down her throat, my twin is now on a different continent, and my father is holding himself together by a thread... I have two younger brothers to keep calm in the wake of all this, a country to run, and six boys downstairs waiting for me to offer one of them my hand... So, yes. I am emotional right now. Anyone with a soul would be."

I also really loved the commentary on the ethics of absolute vs. constitutional monarchies, as most fantasy novels never question the almighty power of their royals.

I was responsible for them. But how could I be? How could one person make sure each and every soul had every chance they could, everything they needed?

As you can see, what I really loved about this novel was it's political undertones. If the plot and characterisation had been as apposite as the ethical and moral components, 'The Crown' could have been a significantly better ending to such an iconic YA series.

Overall, this was an average ending to a rather inconsistent series. I would recommend it to anyone who has already read the other Selection novels - but the last installment in this saga is not spectacular enough to make me recommend the entire series. The books are short enough for a rainy day binge read, though - something I think this series is perfect for!