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Reviews: Winterborne & Ravenstroke

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Winterborne & Ravenstoke
Author: Augusta Blythe 
Release Date: Winterborne: January 27, 2012
                  Ravenstoke:  February 8, 2012
Publisher: Self-Published
Universe Unbound Books #1 & 2
ISBN: Winterborne 978-1469930473
            Ravenstoke 978-1469966113
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Winterborne –  Paperback (300 pgs), e-book
                     Ravenstoke –  Paperback (228 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
Winterborne:
Sixteen-year-old Mia Winterborne is destined to be special. Details are sketchy, though, as her dad disappeared when she was five. Mia only knows that she’ll inherit her kickass superpowers on her seventeenth birthday. Helping Mia prepare for her anticipated ascendancy is Loie Bryce, her best friend and eternal sidekick extraordinaire. The girls’ intense friendship has never wavered until now, when Andreas arrives in Salcey Ridge. They both fall hard for the British hottie, who quickly becomes a fixture in their lives. When they discover that Andreas is not who he appears to be, the frightening reality of Mia’s powers finally hits home. The nearer Mia’s birthday draws, the more the danger escalates and long-buried lies are exposed, putting the girls on a path that they never expected.
Ravenstoke:
In Winterborne, Loie and Mia’s seventeenth birthdays brought more drama and surprises than they ever expected. Now, in Ravenstoke, they are adjusting to the aftermath and struggling to keep those newfound powers in check. When Andreas is called away to England under mysterious circumstances, a new guy is sent to Salcey Ridge in his place. Cian is smarmy and cocksure and Loie wants nothing more than to unleash a hellhound on him. Unfortunately, Cian isn’t the only complication in their lives as the girls must also contend with the reappearance of Mr. Winterborne himself and Loie’s most dreaded fear of all – a part in the school musical. Can the girls survive the rest of junior year unscathed?
What VampBards talking about:
Winterborne was a great YA read.  I liked the world-building, and I was glad that I had the first book of the series to read, so I wouldn’t miss anything.  Had I read only Ravenstoke, I think I may have been a little lost.
There were some great plot twists that I hadn’t predicted in Winterborne.  While I felt most of the story was predictable, the twists threw me for a loop!  When they presented themselves, about ¾ of the way through the story, I couldn’t put it down.  Loie is the back-seat heroine throughout most of the story.  It’s told from her perspective.  I really liked seeing how things looked from her point-of-view.  Mia, Loie’s best friend, was supposed to gain magical powers on her 17th birthday.  Coincidentally, Loie and Mia share the same birthday.  Watching the ‘girl-drama’ between Loie & Mia was NOT the high point of the story for me.  While realistic, the story would have been a better fit for me if that part had been left out.  I get the mooning over the same guy;  I get the conflict…but I HATE girl-drama!  I was glad to see it end.  
Andreas, the mysterious protector that appeared over the summer is a Universal.  He has powers as well.  He also is the keeper of a tremendous secret that has the potential to rip apart the Loie-Mia-Andreas triangle.  While we do get a description of Andreas, it’s not crystal-clear, and I found my mental image of him shifting throughout the story.  
With all the ‘normal’ high school events that kids attend during high school, as well as some external forces, Loie and Mia had a prom they won’t soon forget.  Even though they weren’t speaking, I did like the resolution to the girl-drama during the prom scene.  
I didn’t find any poignant quotes that stuck with me while reading Winterborne.  The typical introverted high school student that was Loie left me with a yearning for a stronger lead character/narrator.  While Ms. Blythe did an excellent job with world-building, Winterborne was one of those reads I was OK with finishing.
Ravenstoke picks up where Winterborne leaves off.  Loie is ‘in training’, and spending a lot of time with Andreas, consequently.  While she’s continuing her high school curricula, Loie appears to definitely be preoccupied with her Universal status and the learning curve.  Even though Andreas appears to be an excellent teacher, I get the feeling that Loie’s skills are beyond his capacity.  
Loie is really snarky.  I love it!  In the first 10% of Ravenstoke, Loie realizes that many of her acquaintances are partaking of the ritualistic pairing-off into coupledom.  Here’s a snippet of her sarcastic tongue:

…When did all of this pairing off happen and why have I missed the love train?  Surrounded by couples on all sides, I fight the urge to feel jealous and lonely.  A few locker doors fly open around me and the loud, clanking sound jolts me back to earth.  I glance around furtively, hoping no one has noticed.  Everyone is too busy sucking face so I quietly pop each door closed.  I remind myself that I have more important concerns than a boyfriend.  Deadly Ancients that want to kill me.  Powers that require a little fine-tuning.  On the other hand, maybe there’s a dating website exclusively for Universals.  Energy-controlling girl seeks shape shifting boy.  Reptiles and rodents need not apply.  I’ll have to ask Andreas in a quiet moment.

Well, Loie doesn’t have to wait long for romance to come knocking on her door!  Andreas leaves for a special assignment (as though keeping Loie safe & training here weren’t enough), and Cian (pronounced Keene…like the band) arrives on the scene.  He implies that he is Andreas’ replacement.  I really enjoyed watching Loie & Cian’s relationship evolve over the course of the book.  Cian is very understanding and patient with Loie.  He gets that she has Daddy Issues.  The most important thing that Cian does for Loie is to give her confidence in herself.  He impressed upon her that she can harness her powers on her own, and that if she had a skilled guide, she could move at a faster rate in her training.  
Soooo… Loie & Mia join drama club so they can go on the trip to England.  So Mia can hopefully see Andreas.  Behind her mother’s back.  Bad teen.  Loie learns a lot about the Universals while she’s there.  She also learns more about different races of Ancients.  More than she’d like to know.  
Ravenstoke had a great plot arc, and the characters rounded out more with this title.  I felt like I knew Loie, Andreas, Mia and Georgia, as well as Cian. I was even pleased with the way Loie’s Daddy Issues resolved.  I’m going to actually miss these characters, and their interaction.  However, I do look forward to reading future installments of this series.  
VampBards Ratings:
Winterborne 
Liked it, but I had some issues – recommend (B)
Ravenstoke
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)




Purchase Info:

Winterborne 
Ravenstoke

  • This is quite interesting. You usually find that the first book in the series is the the great ice breaker and the sophomore book follows up was a good a landing as possible. Pretty cool to see that you enjoyed the first book but found the second in the series even more engaging. Thank for this review.

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