Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

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This is a the second book in a trilogy from Robin who as R.L. LaFevers has already won awards for her books for younger readers which feature ancient curses, dark magic and adventure, these books are fun reads for fans of Skullguggery Pleasant and Lemony Snicket. However Robin’s YA trilogy are certainly not suitable for younger readers. The trilogy uses the historical events of 15th century Brittany as a broad canvas for an epic fantasy of dark magic, murder, treachery and secrets. Not for the faint-hearted, these books are thrilling, stomach churning stuff in the vein of Game of Thrones.

Dark Triumph is the story of Sybella who has come to the convent of Saint Mortain a broken and deranged girl. Skilled in the art of death and seduction the convent has sent her back to the hell she thought she had escaped; her father’s home. Here she must carry out death’s bidding, destroying those the god has marqued for death and who are disloyal to the duchess she serves. It is a lonely life and one she often considers ending until she is tasked with freeing a prisoner from her father’s dungeon and discovers an unexpected ally. If you enjoyed Graceling or Witchstruck then you will love this series.

Thanks to Eve Warlow at Random House for sending me a copy of this book to review. Dark Triumph is published by Andersen Press and is available as an e-book and paperback.


Arclight by Josin L. McQuein


So I got a proof copy of this book to review, and though it took me a while to get through it, I ended up really enjoying it. It was a bit slow-moving to begin with. There are a lot of authors trying to jump on the dystopian/post-apImageocalyptic bandwagon, and this one is no different. Yet, it is different.

The basic plot is about a girl called Marina, who stumbled out of a world of darkness to the Arclight, the last outpost of human survivors. Because the Fade is seemingly infectious, Marina is put into quarantine. Then she is released into the population to live among the other survivors. It’s a pretty interesting concept McQuein has got going here- the Fade and the Grey refer to the borders that divide from light and dark. The Fade also refers to the creatures that continually attack the Arclight, in an attempt to assimilate the compound into their darkness. The Fade things are really scary, they can hide in any small shadow cast in any corner…so when they manage to break into the Arclight, that’s when things get a bit out of hand…

It is definitely worth the read, and has some great plot twists and creepy scenes that will literally raise the hairs on your arms and neck. I read this mostly at night, which was a pretty bad decision, but it was worth it! And what’s more, there is going to be a sequel, which I will definitely read.

Many thanks to Stella Paskins at Egmont UK Ltd. for sending this proof to us  🙂

The Demon Notebook by Erika McGann

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Five girls dabble in witchcraft and bite off much more than they can chew. We’ve heard, read, watched it before right? Yes. However, previous witchy stories I’ve come across (and hoarded like an addict) fail to capture what this book achieves with, seemingly, no effort; the plight of a group of misfit kids, drawn inexorably to magic, seduced by the possibility that there might be a way to make their complicated pre-teen lives a little easier by tapping into some unknown power inside themselves. This was me, and my friends throughout our teens, and now I see it in so many  of the young girls (and often boys) I teach. This book not only conveys that need, revealing it in all its darkness, but also shows a great sense of altruism and responsibility in the girls which teens today have in abundance, but don’t seem to get much credit for.

Now let us put the realism aside before I whip out my guitar for a rendition of ‘Kumbaya’. The girls unearth something diabolical which makes all their less-than-serious spells come true, including the one which will cause a school bully to be run over by a bus. Another particularly dark element to the book involves one of the novice witches being possessed by a demon – cue some downright creepy scenes (which I adored) !

My conclusion: read it! The plot is very well executed, the characters are loveable, the magic is well conceived (I should know, I’m a witch!) and frightening! It gets the Mara Black seal of approval.

Wormwood Gate by Katherine Farmar

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Two teenage girls, who share a mutual dislike of one another, find themselves transported into a parallel, Wonderland version of Dublin, where white rabbits ride the Luas and the Liffey is filled with the drowned spirits of the dead. I am a self-diagnosed fantasy addict, and I loved the quirky (and often creepy) re-imagining of fairyland Dublin, with its subtle references to mythology. However, the strength of this book, for me, was the two main protagonists and their relationship, which develops throughout the novel. Both Julie and Aisling are extremely well-developed and likeable. The dialogue is flawless and entertaining. There is no song and dance made about their romance – it’s subtly developed and written with a wonderful tenderness. This is the kind of fantasy I would love to see more of on the shelves of our YA sections – fresh, contemporary and relatable.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

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Ruth, who writes adult paranormal and fantasy fiction for adults as R. F. Long, has turned her hand to Young Adult fantasy with this wonderful tale of fairy magic. It is seven years since Jenny’s brother Tom was swallowed by the trees and Jenny is determined to find out what happened to him, but the forest is a treacherous place . With traditional figures such as Puck, Robin Goodfellow, Titania and Oberon the story works as a romantic fantasy and also as a gritty tale of destiny and choice, with some dark moments. Cleverly plotted and beautifully written I hope there will be a sequel as I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Smuggler’s Kiss by Marie-Louise Jensen

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This is Marie-Louise Jensen’s sixth novel for children. I have read all but one of her previous books and she never disappoints. If you enjoy strong heroines, historical settings and thrilling adventure then you will love her novels. Smuggler’s Kiss delves right into the action with heroine Isabelle about to throw herself into the sea, we don’t learn why until she reveals her story later on. However we do discover that Isabelle is rather a spoiled brat, rescued from the sea by smugglers they contemplate throwing her overboard but despite her haughty attitude she might prove useful after all. Forced to help with smuggling lace from France Isabelle finds admiration for the risk the smugglers take and the dangers they face and more than a passing interest in one smuggler in particular. Will Isabelle take the chance to escape, will she be discovered or will she find that the dangers are worth the risk for the chance of a smuggler’s kiss. If you are a fan of Historical romance then you won’t be able to put this book down. Perfect for fans of Mary Hooper, Eva Ibbotson, Victoria Lamb and Eve Edwards. Suitable for readers 10 and upwards.

Welcome to Ink and Paper Hearts

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Happy Birthday Blog!

We are new mothers to this blog, and hope you love our new baby as much as we do. We also hope you love kids’ books, because that’s what we’re all about. On this blog, we will review all manner of kids’ books and talk about important stuff like writing, publishing and the plight of aspiring authors.

WARNING: The contents of this blog will be extremely honest.

We are three booksellers living and working in a medium to large, but really quite small town (in the middle of the countryside). Close to, but actually quite far from Dublin. Anyway, enough about where we live.

This blog is about books. BOOKS. BooOOKs. BOOOooksssss. For the record, we pronounce it ‘books’, not ‘bukes’ (this is clearly an attempt to veil our snobbishness with whimsy).

If you don’t like children’s books, you should. That is our professional opinion. And we know what we are talking about. We have M.A.s in things. Like ice-cream making. And children’s literature. So there.

The first of we three goes by the name of Lisa.

I read historical fiction, ghost stories, classics and fantasy. I run another blog called The Mad Woman in the Attic, where I review adult fiction – feel free to check it out.  Historical fiction is my favourite. My house is held up by books, and inside that house reside one husband, (who irons!!), one psycho-punk, and two angelic little cherubs, who I affectionately refer to Coco Chanel Junior and Monster-truck Jack. I write on the side, and currently have three novels on the go.

The second of us goes by the name of the other Lisa. She has black buttons for eyes and lives in a parallel universe.

I inhale books usually. I read mostly in the teen dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, but have been known to rave about teen realism, and some (but not all) teen books that would usually referred to as chick-lit. But we don’t use that word here. Okay? I also write, and I have started and killed several books, and am now working on two separate novels. Let’s hope they survive the summer. 

And the third, we call Mara. Actually we call her lots of things, but she’ll only answer to Mara. (for a complete list of Mara’s nicknames, drop us a line at notforsensitiveears@gmail.com)

I read fantasy. Got a problem with that? Well, I’m a teacher, so go stand in the corner! But seriously, I read fantasy; the good, well-written, inspiring, change-the-world kind that book snobs don’t think of when they think of fantasy. I spend my weekdays teaching adorable brats how to read and write, and my weekends selling books to the same adorable brats. 

I’m have three novels on the go. One is a lanky, moody teenager, one is a screaming toddler and one is still a bun in the oven (or brain – I’m only pregnant in the metaphorical sense).

These are our faces. 🙂 Image