Tag: Magic/Supernatural (page 1 of 29)

BOOK REVIEW: Everless by Sara Holland

BOOK REVIEW: Everless by Sara HollandEverless by Sara Holland
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Oh, I loved this. Full of mystery, intrigue, and… well, more mystery.

The plot was super fun and unique, and for the life of me, I couldn’t predict a thing. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a page-turner here. I’m pretty sure I read the whole thing in almost 24 hours – I seriously couldn’t set it down after the 20% mark.

Really quick – a big thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc!

In a world where time is bound to blood, and people exchange blood/time currency to live, we follow Jules, the protagonist, as she makes the difficult decision to return to work at Everless, an estate owned by one of the most powerful families in the kingdom (and dangerous, I might add.) Jules and her father previously worked there, but due to a nasty accident and threats from one of the Everless sons, Jules father was determined to keep her from ever going back.

But now she needs the money.

Sooooo Jules returns and works as a servant, though she is quickly noticed by the two sons she knew as a child. All the while, she discovers some big secrets about her past and why she was really kept away from the Everless estate. Craziness ensues when the Queen arrives. Jules’s father shows up and begs her to run away and stay far away from the Queen. BUT WHY?! So basically, we have a very confused Jules who keeps finding tidbits about her past and how its woven through a mysterious history linking back to when time was originally bound to blood iron. Which probably makes no sense without reading. Just roll with it.

Anyway, I can’t say anything else without giving up some major secrets, but I recommend going in blind. There are so many twists and turns, and wowzah, a major plot twist. I did NOT see it coming, and I always see them coming. I’m not even sure if I’m particularly happy with the direction, but I don’t care because the concept was SO COOL. My only complaint is the magic system, while it was SO AMAZING, also felt a bit muddy at times, and the book was a *touch* slow in the beginning. Whatever, I don’t even care because I loved it overall.

Basically, all the stars for the crazy cool, totally original tale. One of the most unique magic system’s I’ve ever seen. And if you’re wondering about romance? Literally, anything I say will be a spoiler, but it was fairly minimal – but a really interesting set up for the sequel. I typically have to have a *smidge* of feels or someone to root for romantically, and you’ll definitely feel that way here, so don’t worry. And if you’re someone who prefers romance to be minimal and not take over the plot, well… check. You’ll be pleased as well.

Needless to say, I’m ready for book two…

 

BOOK REVIEW: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

BOOK REVIEW: Renegades by Marissa MeyerRenegades (Renegades #1)
by Marissa Meyer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

This was SO fun! I went into it not knowing anything about the story itself, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Think of it as a superhero mashup told from opposing side POVs in a totally unique way. I was worried that with the overcrowded superhero media these days, the constant similar retellings and such, that this one wouldn’t stand on its own.

It totally did. Super fun and unique, while still throwing nods at other stories.

Before I say anything else, a big thank you to the publishers for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Basically, this is a world where prodigies (people with special abilities) used to be oppressed, but a man named Ace Anarchy rose up and fought for their freedom & acceptance. Except, the age of Ace turned into a villainous era, where villain gangs broke out and terrorized the citizens. So in turn, “good” heroes rose up to fight them, called the ‘Renegades’. They overthrew the Anarchists and took control.

So you here you have it – the Anarchists (those who survived living underground) and the Renegades.

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

I don’t want to spoil much, but we open up into what DOES look like a typical superhero origin story. We witness Nova’s family and how they meet their end, in which young Nova, who idolized the Renegades, realizes they never came to help her family after promising to protect them. But guess who did? Uncle Ace.

Now, Nova lives with the Anarchists underground. Her alias is the ‘Nightmare’, and she’s able to put people to sleep with a single touch. While carrying out a plan to take out the Council (the original leaders of the Renegades), Nova is stopped by a boy who calls himself the ‘Sentinel’. After a heated battle between the two, Nova barely escapes, wondering who the heck he is, because she’s never seen him or heard of him from the Renegades.

A lone hero? Perhaps.

Enter Adrian (aka smol).

Adrian is the son of an original Renegade – his mother, who was murdered when he was young. Now, he lives with his adopted dads – the two heads of the Council (aka the most worshipped Renegades). They adopted him (and here I cry because it’s so sweet) and he grew up within the Renegade headquarters. He’s brilliant and has a super cool ability which I won’t spoil. But he also has a secret that no one in the Renegades knows about.

He’s the Sentinal.

And when he fought the ‘Nightmare’ (he has no idea who she is underneath her mask), she utters a phrase that tells him she might know who his mother’s murderer is. So Adrian sets out to find her, while Nova sets plots in place to take out the Renegades for good. I’m going to stop there and leave the rest of the book as a surprise. Trust me, just dive in!

As I mentioned before, this is like a mashup of all your favorite superhero movies, but at the same time, the story is totally unique and so are the characters. I didn’t feel like I was reading another origin story or watching a movie I’ve seen a thousand times. This was SO fun, twisty, and fast paced. And visual. Meyer is so insanely creative – we saw that in her Lunar Chronicles series that I loved – and I would argue that this might even be stronger (though no one can replace Thorne.) All the prodigies have crazy cool powers – ones that I would have NEVER thought of. The whole plot is brilliant.

My only complaint is that we don’t get resolution for the one thing I craved, though it will certainly be in the sequel(s). I neeeeeded to see how that played out. Oh well, whatever. I’m hooked, Marissa. You got me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca RossThe Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Oooh man. This has some of the loveliest, most visual writing I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Like… every sentence…. every paragraph… was crafted so perfectly. I feel so inspired.

I feel like 90% of the time I come across pretty writing though, the plot is a bit lost. The good news? That isn’t the case here. Rebecca Ross managed to create an utterly enchanting world and a rich, unique storyline that had me turning pages nonstop.

Brienna is a lovely, relatable MC who is taken to Magnolia House (think of it as a small, specialized boarding school) to grow up and study ‘passions’. Normally, you have to have a certain skillset to attend such a place, but Brienna’s grandfather manages to convince the headmaster to accept her, after sharing her father’s true identity (except Brienna is kept in the dark on this matter.)Anyway, passions fall into five categories: art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. Except Brienna can’t seem to master any of them. She knows she wasn’t admitted because of her skill, and that it had something to do with her heritage.

Anyway, she forms a bit of a… bond with one of the professors, but when the time comes for the students to leave with a patron, Brienna isn’t chosen. Feeling rejected, the headmaster offers her a deal with a mysterious lord. Meanwhile, she sees memories of someone she believes to be her ancestor but is afraid to confide in anyone.

I can’t say much more, but things get interesting as we learn of Brienna’s real heritage and how it ties in with the dilapidated kingdom in the north. She winds up in a plot to retake her homeland and thus mystery, intrigue, magic, and romance ensues! (I will say this. Romance isn’t the focus, but I was definitely sitting there most of the book thinking… JUST KISS DAMMIT. But don’t go into this just for the romance – it is definitely a slow burn subplot.)

Anyway, this was SO close to a five-star read. The only thing holding me back was I felt like things were resolved so easily in the last 30%. Like there wasn’t quiiiite enough conflict and everything kinda falls into place? And while I loved every minute with Brienna, I felt like the pacing in the middle lagged just a *touch*.

But nonetheless, I still REALLY enjoyed it and I highly recommend the read. Right now, it feels like a standalone, but my gosh I would love for another book in this world. I really can’t brag enough about how fun of a read it was, and how immersed I was in the world.

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora Carmack

BOOK REVIEW: Roar by Cora CarmackRoar (Stormheart #1)
by Cora Carmack
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Okay, so there was A LOT of really cool elements and honestly the sequel is set up to be even better than the first, so I’m not looking forward to a year of waiting. On the same note, definitely some corny elements, which is to be expected. All in all though, it was definitely fun!

I’ll start with Aurora, or ‘Roar’. I actually really liked her. She’s a weak heroine, and to be honest, she DOES grow but her character development is far from finished, so by the end of the book, she still had her weak elements. I think some will get annoyed at her for it, but I appreciated it. Not every heroine has to be 100% badass 100% of the time.

At the beginning, she’s a princess who is held in isolation inside her castle by her mother in order to prevent people from finding out she doesn’t have storm magic, which is a hereditary thing in the royal family. So yeah, kinda a big deal that she doesn’t have it. She’s being forced to marry Cassius (more on this lovely chunk of words later) as quickly as possible so she can keep her kingdom before others find out. But as you can tell by the synopsis, Roar runs away, and I won’t say much more than that. I love the direction the author took her in because book two should be GREAT as I said above. Anyway, she has a cute little temper but a good heart and wasn’t overly spoiled by the whole palace life thing.

Now for Cassius, our resident dark and very questionable prince… YES. I am so here for him. He needed MUCH more screen time and I’m hoping he gets it in book two because asldkfja;lsdkjf. The beginning was SO STRONG when he first met Aurora. Like what even, can we please talk about chemistry? But then Roar overhears him and realizes he only plans to use her to get the crown. Whatever guys, I know that is *kinda true* but there’s also a lot more about him that we don’t understand, and he DEFINITELY has a good side too. I’m labeling him as an antihero and you can’t stop me. I have such high hopes for him. He’s kinda like… a baby Darkling?? Yes? Anyone?? (Dearest Cora… please please more Cassius…and Cassius and Roar…)

I kina have a feeling the author was hinting at something between Cassius an Nova but nooooooo aldskfja;ldkfj I need Cassius and Roar.

I’m also super interested in Casimir an the rest of Cassius’s family.

Once Roar runs away, she ends up with a new gang of storm hunters (which are super cool). Actually, let me stop there for a moment. The whole storm fighting and storm hearts thing was really neat and took this from being a typical fantasy book to a super unique magic system and storyline. As I mentioned above, there are definitely some cliches and cheesy parts that you find in most fantasies (especially in the romance egh) but the A+ world building kept me invested even during those times.

That bring me to Locke (resident head storm hunter broody guy). I liked him, but I didn’t fall head over heels with him. I think it was because he was the sole focus for Roar in, and by the end of the book, he kinda felt like a typical overprotective boyfriend who gets angry at anyone who even looks at his girl wrong. I don’t know. I mean, he and Roar did have some chemistry and I didn’t mind him, and I did feel for him and his story, but Cassius is just so much more interesting and I liked his dynamic with Roar more. I CAN’T HELP IT.

To summarize…

The Good:
-really cool world
-freaking cool magic system
-um the storms have personalities? SO COOL
-CASSIUS
-likeable yet weak heroine
-excellent villain development
-A+ set up for the sequel

The ‘eh’:
-romance got cheesy later on
-cheesy writing in the whole ‘love declaration’ blah blah stuff
-Cassius didn’t get enough book time
-not much resolution for things I wanted to see before the sequel (more below)

Before I get into spoilers below, I’ll just say definitely give this book a go if you’re in for a unique fantasy/world and don’t mind romance being the main focus (because it is) – but even if you aren’t huge on that part of it, there’s for sure hope for the sequel.

******SPOILERS BELOW******

Anyway, about 70% of the book is Roar traveling with Locke and his crew, and I did enjoy it and the pacing was pretty good, but at the end, I expected a cliffhanger, but I felt like there was way too much left open. I mean, Cassius never even gets close to her or gets any clues, and I was super disappointed because I was totally on board for a cat and mouse thing (I’m so lame) and Locke never finds out who she is… so we literally had no resolution in this book aside from Locke and Roar getting feelsy. We get a glimpse at Roar’s ‘ability’ which is cool, but not much else. Berlghhg I just need the second book please and thank you.

OKAY OKAY AND WHAAAT CASSIUS IS THE FIRST BORN OGMARGHER YESS I AM HERE FOR THIS.
(Are you guys tired of me talking about Cassius? Sorry.)

All the while Locke and Roar and their gang are doing their thing, there’s another villain being set up in the background so I’m super interested in that. Especially with the last paragraph of the book.

Anyway, is it too early to beg for an ARC of book two? Yes? Poo.

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Tayor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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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!

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