Tag: Magic/Supernatural (page 1 of 29)

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Tayor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I honestly still don’t know what to rate this, so I’m going with 3.5 stars.

Wow, so it took me nearly two months to finish this book. Here’s the thing. The writing quite literally slays, and so does the characterization. My struggle was this: Half the time, I was sitting there in awe, thinking ‘This is the best book EVER WRITTEN’ ahhh. The other half? It felt like wading through mud. Sparkly, very very pretty mud, but mud nonetheless. There would be pages and pages of descriptions – and while they were mind blowing, I was dyyinggg for the story to start.

So just a heads up – it takes about half way or maybe even more for anything to even start happening. The pace didn’t pick up until like 80%.

My recommendation? If you’re a writer (or aspiring writer) – this is a must read. For sure. But be prepared going into it. I think I’ve highlighted half the book because of how pretty and raw the sentences were. It was poetic at times and short and raw at others. Such an interesting combination I feel like I’ve learned a ton and I owe Laini a great deal for that.

Lazlo Strange is easily one of the most tender and relatable characters in YA lit. He was precious down to the bone, and I swear I don’t think anyone could read about him and not fall in love. From the very first page, too. He sucks you in quick. His fascination of ‘Weep’ becomes the reader’s fascination of weep. It’s impossible not to feel Lazlo’s emotions.

As far as the other characters – same deal. They all felt real. I loved Sarai even though she didn’t have a huge personality. Her abilities are super dark but super cool and I was totally rooting for her. I also liked to see the interaction with the other… ‘gods’ or whatever they were. I love how they each had distinguishable personalities. What I didn’t love? Their POV talking about next to nothing.

Anyway, like I said, the pacing is extremely slow and I think the characters are the entire reason I stuck around. If it hadn’t been for them, I would have just picked it up occasionally to get some writing inspiration.

The world building was also phenomenally done, (albeit weird at times with the metal thing). But cool. Okay, does anyone remember watching ‘The Little Princess’ as a kid? That movie was what spurred my obsession with Indian Folklore. I would chain watch that movie over and over again because of the blue goddess love story and ahhhh this book brought back memories of that and of other stories I used to love. Ugh see? This is my issue. I would have loved this book so much more -perhaps even cried over it- if the pacing had been better.

So here I sit with mixed feelings. So much greatness. So much brilliance. And yet it took me months to get through it.

Take what you will from that!

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh(Flame in the Mist, #1)
by Renee Ahdieh
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” 

Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.

HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED….

Alright. I wasn’t that into the first 30-40%. It wasn’t bad at all, but I just wasn’t really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival until she can figure out who paid the Black Clan to kill her. So, she infiltrates their camp and attempts to gain their trust. 

Mariko has quite the aversion to men, being that men predominately rule in their society and women are left to please men. I totally get that, and Mariko was justified in feeling that way, but she does bring it up quite a lot. Almost too much, but whatever.

Anyway, about half way through, once we’re into the Black Clan hideout, things start to get interesting. And they just keep getting better and better. I literally could not put it down past the 70% mark. Like holy wowza… SO GOOD. It was non stop, action packed, with so many fun turns. AND THE END AHHHHH WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!

I TOTALLY GUESSED THE TWIST TOO. And I don’t even care that I guessed it because it was so great. I was actually hoping I was right because just.. yes. So good. 

Some of the highlights for me were:

1. Japanese inspired culture. Lush and gorgeous.
2. Okami. And he the fact that he has long hair.
3. Topknots.
4. The scene where Mariko falls from the… cliff thing.
5. Gorgeous quotes, like the following…

“A blossom can split through a rock, given enough time.”

I did have a few small complaints – one being the magic system. It was really confusing and not really explained at all – no rules were mentioned and it seemed very random. I’m assuming this will be explained much more in the next book, but it was odd to me that it was so sporadic. 

The only other thing was the writing- not that it was bad. It just felt a bit dry and hard to follow at times. I felt the same way about Ahdieh’s other series too – ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’. Whatever, the story here is amazing.

All in all, I totally recommend this. I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber MitchellGarden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

Let me start of by saying that overall this book was a ton of fun. The beginning (the first 30%) was SO GOOD. Seriously, I had no doubt I was going to rate this 5 stars. It was immediately gripping – I felt for the heroine so much and my heart just ached for her. Unfortunately it lost a bit of momentum for me – mostly because the heroine did WAY too much thinking about the love interest was amidst all the more important things going on. Regardless, the plot was really fun and I still recommend the book! 

Basically Rose is the ‘star performer’ of the Garden – a traveling burlesque full of girls who’ve been kidnapped/captured and forced into the rouse. It’s horribly sad and quite graphic how everything is written (in no way is it romanticized or glorified – but be aware.) The garden master keeps the girls in line by harming the ‘wilted’ girls – girls who are raised alongside of the performer girls. 

Anyway, after a horrific tragedy that I won’t mention, Rose realizes she must escape so that she can find a way to free the rest of the girls. During a performance in front of the emperor, she ends up taking someone hostage – not realizing he’s the ex prince and leader of a powerful rebellion. 

That all happens within the first few chapters so the book starts off VERY intense. 

Some of the highlights for me were the magic system (totally unique and looks super cool in my head) AND the book takes place in a fantasy nation that I believe was inspired by a mix of Japanese and Chinese cultures (I’m not an expert and I could be wrong but according to the terminology/descriptions, this is what it seemed like.) And Rayce, the former crown prince, was pretty much wonderful all around.

*Minor spoilers below – nothing big*

Rose ends up joining the rebellion, mostly because she wants to convince them to help rescue her friends. Things get pretty interesting as they are sent on missions. The pacing was really great all around. I also loved the fact that Rose’s secret was obvious and the author didn’t try to make it a big reveal. It was never meant to be a plot twist – she lets the reader piece it together it in Rose’s thoughts without a major ‘aha’ moment.

Let me be clear… this is a fantasy romance. It is the main focus (at least it is a semi slow burn). I’m not really one to complain about that if it’s done well – and even though I loved Rose as a character, I got reaaaally tired of her overanalyzing her feelings towards Rayce. Even amidst major scenes, she was thinking about him WAY too much. It didn’t even really line up with her character because she wasn’t petty or whiny at all. Some writing advice I received myself was to not ‘think too much for your reader’ and I believe this is what was happening here.

The whole ‘garden’ aspect was so unique (and heartbreaking). Mitchell’s storytelling was phenomenal and she definitely knows how to break your heart. While there were several creative elements, the main plot line wasn’t exactly anything new after the last 50% but I still enjoyed it. I’m glad I read it and I’d totally read another book by Amber Mitchell.

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2) by Brenda Drake

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2) by Brenda Drake

I’m beyond ecstatic to be on this tour because spoiler alert – I LOVED this book! Guardians of Secrets was magical, fun and had my emotions all over the place. So check out my 5 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway! Enjoy!

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY – Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2) by Brenda DrakeGuardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2)
by Brenda Drake
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Being a Sentinel isn't all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world's most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn't enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him "ex," since he's so into another girl. But she doesn't have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that's going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Review:

Guardian of Secrets was filled to the brim with magic and fun!  This is the second book in the series, and I was easily transported back into their world right from the start.  The pages were filled with friendship, laughter, tears, betrayal, love and trust.  And I happily found myself addicted, since the characters continually pulled at my emotions.  I absolutely loved Guardian of Secrets, and I can’t wait to discover the rest of Brenda Drake’s books!

His face went serious. “Gia…”
“What?”
He stepped closer to me, lifted my chin toward his lips, and kissed me.

The story starts off right where Thief of Lies ended.  Gia, Nick and the Sentinels have gone into hiding in the human world.  They attend school, and I found myself completely absorbed in the drama that unfolded.  On top of school, they were still training, and Gia and Nick were tracking down the remaining Chiave, which are the keys to the Tetrad.  I can’t say too much more about the plotline, without huge spoilers, but know that I loved how the storyline evolved.

If someone’s soul could die, mine was withering with each painful step.

Speaking of evolving,  I’m happy to say that Gia has grown up and matured.  Her immaturity in Thief of Lies bothered me, but I’m so impressed with her now!  What I loved about her most still held true, she continued to stand strong, to not back down, and she tried to do what was right again and again.  And while she could still be rash and impatient at times, I expected it since many people she loved were in harms way.  So Gia rightfully earned my love and respect!

I felt safe with Bastien around. Cared for in a way I hadn’t been before, even with Arik. I might not want to admit it, but I’d felt that way since the day I’d met him.

Arik also earned my love and respect, and well, that just made me want to cry.  I know that sounds weird, but he’s not the one I want to ultimately end up with Gia.  I wanted to remain ambiguous towards him, so I wouldn’t feel bad if and when he wasn’t chosen.  You see there’s a love triangle that is done fabulously in this series!  On one side is Arik, a Sentinel like Gia.  Their love is forbidden but Gia is a little obsessed with him and vice versa.  At the start of this book they’re together, but another girl keeps coming into the picture which made me ecstatic.  Because on the other side of the love triangle is Bastien, a Wizard, who Gia was betrothed to as a child.  

“…..There’s nothing more attractive than a girl who can decapitate a beast.”
I laughed. “So you like the violent type.”
He quirked a mischievous grin. “There’s nothing better.” – Bastien & Gia

From the first moment Bastien appeared, I fell head over heels in love with him.  He knows what he wants in life and will do anything to get it, which is so sexy!  Not only was he loving, caring and let Gia have her independence, but what he sacrificed for Gia *clutches heart*.  I desperately want to talk about that but won’t because of spoilers.  But that event brought about his protective side.  And even better than Bastien being protective was his jealous side.  So hot, he was so unbelievably hot!  So in case it isn’t obvious, I desperately and wholeheartedly love Bastien!

“I have desires, and need a wife.” – Royston

There was a whole list of characters that I loved.  Especially Lei, Faith and Dierdre!  It was so refreshing seeing strong woman support one another and continually raise each other up!  I loved it!  But another character stood out loud and clear and his name was Royston.  He became a quick favorite!  Royston spoke those words in the above quote but here’s the thing, I can’t tell you who or what he is, or even how he fits into the story, but know that I felt guilty for even liking him.  Especially since he was so blunt and had no filters at times.  But he entertained me, and I hope that some of my guesses pan out for how his story will proceed!

Before he could swing it, I aimed my sword and threw it like a javelin. The blade flew through the air and punctured the upper left side of his back, making a sickening tearing sound as it broke through his flesh.

So Guardian of Secrets was such a huge win for me!  I laughed, I fell in love, I sobbed and I closed the book with the hugest smile on my face!  I loved that yet again the story continually built, and that we started to see more sides to the huge picture that is unfolding.  And while I guessed how a few things would play out, I was happily surprised and even shocked with a few of the twists!  So I can’t wait for the final book, because this series continues to get better and better!

*ARC kindly provided by Entangled Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
thief of lies brenda drake
Thief of Lies #1
Review:

Jen
guardian-of-secrets-brenda-drake
Guardian of Secrets #2
Review:

Jen
Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Brenda Drake:

Brenda DrakeBrenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2). She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreads

 

Tour Schedule:

You can check out the rest of the tour here.

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BOOK REVIEW – Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda Drake

BOOK REVIEW – Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1) by Brenda DrakeThief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1)
by Brenda Drake
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Parislibrary, where Arik and his Sentinels-magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world's most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren't busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik's world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Review:

***Updated Review After Re-Read***

Thief of Lies was addicting and completely entertaining.  And I’m so glad that I re-read this book!  You see, the first time I picked this up, I struggled connecting to the characters.  The story was so much fun, but I never felt as though I was fully immersed until Bastien appeared on the pages, and well I’ll talk more about him later.   But this time around, it all clicked into place.  I was so happy because Thief of Lies was an adorable story filled with adventure and magic!  And I can’t wait to see how this series unfolds!

Time crept by as I waited for Bastien, and I closed my eyes.  But the nightmare of where I was and who I didn’t know I was, strangled my breath.  Gia Kearns didn’t exist anymore.  She’d been lost somewhere on that first day when the gateway book ripped her from her world, dumping her in a dark hole.  A fog surrounded me.

But to start, can you imagine what it would be like to jump from library to beautiful library?  Well Gia and her friends accidentally jumped through a book and landed in a library in Europe.  Yet it’s not all ahhh this library is breathtakingly gorgeous and I’m going to sit here and read some fabulous books.  They become witness to the Sentinels, who protect the libraries with magic, kill a demonic hound that almost took out Gia, our heroine.  Within the group of magical knights that saved them was Arik.

“Did you just check out my boobs?” I whispered. Please say yes.
“No.” He smirked. “Okay, yes. I am a guy.”
That you are.
I yanked the covers up to my chin and suppressed a smile.

At first, Arik was everything I adore.  Sexy, secretive, protective and with a wounded past.  He had so much potential!  Yet I had a love hate relationship with him.  Luckily, this time around I got why he was being standoffish and cold to Gia.  But at other times, he could be so sweet and charming.  Yet, I never felt any electricity between Gia and Arik.  Their moments together didn’t leave me all smiley and giddy, so I truly don’t feel like he’s the right guy for Gia.  Especially when he said things like the quote above.  So I nicely stepped off Team Arik.

I gulped down my fear, drew my sword from its scabbard , and kept it close to my side.

Gia had a lot on her plate, and she tried her best adapt while leaving her old life temporarily behind (I can’t say why, but you learn the why early on in the book).  Yet it took me a while to warm up to Gia.  At times, she got caught up in being jealous and boy obsessed.  It came across as immature, and I wanted her to work harder on finding herself. But as I watched her deal with her new world and a new set of people/creatures I loved her resilience.  Even though she kept getting thrown into situations that were way above her head, I loved how she reacted realistically while she also jumped right in to help others.  Gia is someone who showed huge possibilities for growth, and I can’t wait to see how much she’ll learn and improve as the series progresses.

“With time, I’ll prove to you we belong together. Go ahead and have your fun with Arik, but it’s my arms you’ll end up in one day.”He kissed my cheek and headed over to the gathering crowd. – Bastian to Gia

I have to talk about Bastien now, or I will burst.  Oh Bastien.  From the first moment that he appeared on the page, I was captivated.  He was a wizard who was confident, sexy and strived to do great things while dealing with a broken heart.  He fascinated me.  And whether it was his sense of knowing himself or knowing what he wanted, he felt so much more grown up than Arik.  The words and manor that Bastien spoke to Gia always left the hugest smile on my face.  He was respectful, caring and I loved that he seemed in control.  So I truly hope Gia sees what I see and comes around.  Please oh please don’t end up with Aric by the end of this series and break my heart.

“I take it you’re not used to rejection,” I said.
He lifted a smile. “I’ll admit it’s a rare occurrence.”
Arik took a step toward us. “All right, we’re finished here.”
Bastien stood and leaned over to my ear. “You not wanting nobility intrigues me.  I’m curious to learn more about you, Gianna.” His whisper tickled my neck and sent a shiver down my back.  I held my breath, every inch of my body at attention.  He straightened, gave me a wink, and swaggered to the door with Arik on his heels.

Besides Bastian, Gia and Arik, we’re introduced to a lot of characters who range from witches, wizards, sentinels, fae etc.  On top of that, we learn about many different places and kinds of magic.  But I never once felt overwhelmed or lost.  We’re slowly introduced with little bits of info here and there, except for a few info dumps that  were relatively quick.  So it was easy to take it all in.  And ironically, I thought the story was somewhat simplistic a few chapters in, but I couldn’t be more wrong.  It continually grew and become more elaborate and layered as each chapter went by.  Especially when I started to discover clues and meet people err creatures? who were bent on not only revenge, but also ruling their world and the humans world too.  It was so entertaining!  So I can’t wait to see how the story proceeds, and here’s hoping you’ll join me and be on Team Bastien!

I grabbed a stapler and crouched behind the nearest cabinet. Nick and Afton ducked down beside me. I pulled the leg down on the stapler, held it up, and readied it to shoot.
“Yeah, that’ll work,” Nick said.

PS I have to give a shout out to her best friend Nick who could be grumpy at times, but I adored him.  And Afton, her other best friend, was this lovable girl who warmed me heart!  Ohhhh and Lei, she’s a Sentinel that is funny, sweet and kick ass.  I can’t wait for you to meet all of them!

PPS I finished Guardian of Secrets (the 2nd book in the series) last night and LOVED!  It’s 4.5 Stars and this series just gets better and better!  My review will be posted on February 6th with the Blog Tour. ♥

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
thief of lies brenda drake
Thief of Lies #1
Review:

Jen
guardian-of-secrets-brenda-drake
Guardian of Secrets #2
Review:

Jen
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