Friday, 16 September 2016

Blog Tour Stop: Review : Smoke and Mirrors (Blackhollow Academy #1) by Jess Haines

Welcome today's stop on the Smoke and Mirrors Blog Tour  hosted by Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours.   Today's stop is a review.  Read on to see what I thought as well as reading an exclusive excerpt from the book!


I love stories about magic and magic schools and this one was just that little bit different from the ones i normally read which made me enjoy it all the more. Kimberley is a half human/half sorcerer going to a school for mages where sorcerers are mostly reviled. She has spent the majority of her time at the school hiding what she is so that she can make it through and get her license to practise magic and secure the the job of her dreams with one of the more prestigious covens. However Kimberley needs to bind a familiar to graduate but being a sorcerer has no affinity with elemental magic nor ability to summon, Enter Cormac, the handsome mysterious stranger with his own secrets and who might be her only chance of finding a dragon to become her familiar in time for graduation.

I enjoyed the story that Ms Haines tells. The writing flowed and immediately enticed me into the story. There was enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and in the story from beginning to end and I loved the chemistry between Cormac and Kimberley.

I particularly liked the character of Kimberley in this book. She was a strong female character with a strong moral compass though somewhat naive in the way of things magical and I liked that despite the fact her life had never been easy, she never expected anyone else to solve her problems for her and was happy to face them head on. I liked that this book was not about kimberley needing saving but rather about her finding out more about who she is is and what she is capable of, in a situation where there is danger wherever she might turn.

I also found the world Ms Haines built in this story incredibly intriguing. A world that knew of the existence of others and mages seem to be at the top of the pecking order and almost considering many of the other paranormal beings and entities to be beneath them and even subservient to them. I would have liked to see more of the covens and the school and the students themselves as I felt like we only got a small taste of these with only a couple of the other students really playing an individual role in this story and given that this is listed as being the first book in the BlackHollow academy series they we may yet see some more of this world and these characters.

This story is a great combination of adventure, romance , action and self discovery. I found it a solid enjoyable read and gave the story 3 3/4 stars

Sapphired Dragon XX

Smoke and Mirrors (Blackhollow Academy #1) by Jess Haines

Book Title: Smoke and Mirrors (Blackhollow Academy #1)

Author: Jess Haines
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Fantasy

A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she's just like all the other magi.
A dragon who sees through her lies.
Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.
Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she's got the credentials, so she’s stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can't afford at her part time job in a café, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.
The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.
As an illusionist, she doesn't have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates—and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus—she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems...
Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight

Exclusive Excerpt

Viper made a soft hissing sound of irritation between his teeth, pulling back from her. “Cormac has no vision. I know what I want and I’m prepared to offer anything to get it. You have but to ask.”

Well. There was one thing. Her cheeks flared crimson and she squirmed a bit before stuttering out another question, swallowing back her embarrassment.

“You keep a hoard like a dragon, right? I don’t suppose you would consider loaning me a little? I swear I’d pay it back.”

His head tipped to one side, and he looked her up and down anew. She suspected he was just noticing her frayed cuffs and cheap shoes. He’d been so intent on getting whatever it was he wanted out of her that he hadn’t paid attention to the package it came in until now. When she caught the very slight curl of his lip, there and gone in a flash, embarrassed heat filled her cheeks.

Feeling both dirty and humiliated, she ducked her head. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have asked. I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do this.”
“Come now, I’m sure it’s not that hard. All it takes is a yes.”

“No,” she said, this time with a bit more vehemence. Cormac was right. There was something off about Viper, and never mind what a perfect ass she’d just made of herself. Worst of all, that flash of disgust showed he obviously had no respect for her. At least Cormac never made her feel tolerated. “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll find some other way of getting what I need.”

He slowly rose to stand, heaving a sigh as he settled back on his heels.

“That’s unfortunate. This would have been much easier if you had agreed.”

Kimberly would have asked what he meant by that, but the look in his eyes froze her in place.

His eyes burned a molten gold as he spread his arms, which were expanding and shifting at an alarming rate. Faster than she might have thought possible, he was growing, his clothing melting and skin disappearing under a layer of metallic scales. Nearby, people were noticing, shouting and screaming in fear as they stampeded in every direction to escape the shapechanging Other in their midst.

When he ceased growing, from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, he was over thirty feet long, with a wingspan half again that size.
Kimberly sat immobile, unable to so much as squeak in terror as the beast before her lurched back to arch its neck and spread its wings, barbed tail lashing as it growled at her. One thick, talon-tipped paw lashed out, flattening her on the grass and squeezing the air out of her lungs. It gave an awkward, one-legged hop forward to catch its balance before clenching its claws to dig deep furrows in the grass and close around her waist and legs, pinning her.

Then those wide, ribbed wings began to flap, the sun playing off the tones of brass and copper and gold. The ground fell away, people scattering before the airborne monster.

And Kimberly could do nothing but pray, staring up at this great beast that had her in its claws.

She’d gotten what she’d asked for. Now she would have to pay the price.

ABOUT  Jess haines

I'm a displaced New Yorker with a penchant for the silly, the obscure, and the fantastical. These days, you can find me in the Tampa area. I'm currently working on the H&W Investigations urban fantasy series and the Blackhollow Academy young adult/new adult contemporary fantasy series. Find out more about my books, drop me a line, or join my mailing list at!

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