Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gratitude Giveaway (International)



Welcome to my stop on the hop! I would like to thank the lovely hostess, Mary from BookHounds for putting this hop together. 

I can't believe it's been 6 years since I first launched this blog. I honestly didn't  think I'd last that long. As you know, life happens...people either start school or a new job. It's hard to carve out some time to read. And I know I haven't been posting as much as I used to, but I am not going anywhere. I love books and the book community too much to give up! Did I mention it's been 6 fabulous years? 


I just want to thank everyone that has followed this blog since I first started and to those who recently found their way here. You guys are the reason why I started this blog and the reason why I'm still here. And for that, I thank you. I would also like to thank the wonderful authors, publishers and publicists I had the opportunity to work with over the years. You guys are truly amazing, and I love how passionate you are about the books/authors you champion. I can't even count the many times in which I discovered new books/authors that I end up falling in love with. Thank you for providing me with endless hours of escapism and for renewing my love for books each and every time you send me a book to review. 

One (1) winner
Choice of $25 (USD) Amazon GC or $25 (USD) worth of books from the Book Depository.

The Gratitude Giveaway hop runs from November 15 - 30


To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below.

Enter by following the blog your way (by either Facebook or Twitter) links can be found to the right)! 

Extra entry, Answer one of these questions by leaving a comment on this post.


What book are you most looking forward to in 2018?

If you celebrate, what's your plans for Thanksgiving?

INTERNATIONAL, open to anywhere The Book Depository ships.



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DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE BLOGS THAT ARE PARTICIPATING!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Title: Autonomous
Author: Annalee Newitz
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: N/A, Standalone

Hardcover, 300 Pages
Publication: September 19, 2017 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Autonomous features a rakish female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who traverses the world in her own submarine. A notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor, Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America—a drug that compels people to become addicted to their work.

On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a young military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. 
Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Joe and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City.

Like the title suggest, the main theme of the novel is autonomy. Autonomous features AIs, some born autonomous while other works towards that end goal. This idea doesn’t apply just to robots, as many humans find themselves indentured whether it is to people or corporations. Some humans find themselves unable to break free of the contract and live out their lives chained or worst (however you may look at it) death. Autonomous begs the questions, what is freedom and for those that have autonomy; are we truly free? Readers explore this question as we follow a pirate/smuggler named Jack who sells reverse-engineered pharmaceutical drugs on the black market for the low-income sector. And Paladin and Eliasz, IPC agents tracking Jack because they believe her black market drugs are the cause of hundreds of death across the U OF S.

The concept of the novel was interesting and I liked how Newitz incorporated so many themes within the story-line. And the pacing was great as there was never a dull moment. As far as world building goes, it wasn’t as developed as I liked. Newitz used a lot of fancy science terminology but never elaborated on the whole servitude issue with humans and AIs. I wished the author went more in-depth, on the world and its characters. One of the most important quality I look for in a book is whether or not it’s character driven. And sadly, Autonomous isn’t one of those novels. I never once connected or invested into the characters. The tag-line said Jack was a modern day Robin Hood, but I never got that impression. She didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor. Yes, she did things that would benefit the poor but it definitely wasn’t a selfless act. And monetary gains was still one of the contributing factors if not notoriety.

Autonomous had some intriguing ideas and an array of important themes integrated into the plot such as equality, sexuality, ethics, 1st Amendment rights, cultural and societal issues but poor execution of world building and characters made for a problematic debut novel. I wished Autonomous lived up to the hype. I cannot recommend Autonomous, there are far better Sci-Fi novels that touches on the same themes, if not all.



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

Title: Devils & Thieves
Author: Jennifer Rush
Genre: Paranormal, New Adult
Series: Devils & Thieves # 1

Hardcover, 336 Pages
Publication: October 3, 2017 by Little Brown BFYR

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Power corrupts. Magic kills.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael is surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe—the dangerous and enigmatic leader of Hawthorne’s kindled motorcycle gang, the Devils’ League.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor spreads that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.


Devils and Thieves is what you’d get if you mixed Sons of Anarchy and The Covenant. Has anyone seen the show or movie? It’s pretty good. I loved the SOA show and all things witches, so I was more than eager to read this new series. But to be honest, I had some trepidation before starting Devils and Thieves. There were more negative reviews than positive, and I had such high hopes for this new book…I mean, come on, magical biker gangs?! How awesome does that sound?

The world of Devils and Thieves is comprised of multiple motorcycle gangs, all with their own powers that’s past on from one generation to the next. The ability ranges from locating/hiding animate and inanimate objects, controlling peoples’ feelings and thoughts, talking to animals, visions and communicating with the dead, to changing peoples’ perception, etc. The world set-up was interesting but it was poorly developed and executed. There were twelve different types of magic and the author just rattled them off and went in to a very basic and brief explanation of each which left me lost and confused for half of the book. The author tried to distinguished each set of magic with smells and colors, which can only be seen by Jemmie…but all of it still got lost in the shuffle. Another issue I had was there were way too many characters. With the annual kindled festivities, all the MCs came into town and it was difficult to remember which person belonged to which charter. I think the information would’ve felt less chaotic if there were only 1-3 types of magic and charter, because sometimes less is more.

Jemmie took awhile to grow on me, it wasn’t until the end that I found her less annoying. She came off as whiny and clingy at the start of the book. And for the majority of the time she was constantly moping about Crowe; all because they shared one kissed and he dismissed her right after. It’s been a year…she should of moved on. But she didn't. Jemmie isn’t the greatest of female leads, but she definitely redeemed herself in the end. Many also complained about a love-triangle in the book…I’m not a fan of those either. However, it oddly didn’t bother me like it normally does. Probably because it wasn’t really a love-triangle. There was never a doubt who Jemmie loved and wanted to be with. Sad to say but other guy was just a rebound/distraction, she barely interacted with him beside face-timing  and seeing him at the festival for 3 days.

Devils and Thieves is a flawed New Adult (not sure why it’s labeled as YA since the characters are 18 and over) but it still provided a quick, engaging and good read. For the most part, I enjoyed it. Yes, the romance aspect was predictable, but the mystery surprised me. The kidnapper in the book was the last person I’d suspect! The ending was a game changer and has me curious to see what happens next with Jemmie and Co. With that said, it you like witches, or the show SOA; I suggest checking out Devils and Thieves…you might enjoy it!




Friday, October 06, 2017

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 300 Pages
Publication: September 26, 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Source: I received a review copy (Arc) in exchange for a honest review. 

Buy|Amazon|B&N

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—

Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.


An Enchantment of Ravens has probably one of the most stunning book cover I’ve ever seen. I was already intrigued by the beautiful cover but what sealed the deal was the synopsis; I’m a sucker for anything faerie related. The book is centered around 17-year-old Isobel, a renown portrait painter in Whimsy with clients to die for…The Fair Folks. Isobel paints portraits for faerie patrons in exchange for enchantments to protect her and her family, whether it be to protect their selves from harm from The Fair Ones or something useful such as a chicken, guarantee to lay 6 eggs per week, forever. However, things get dangerously complicated when she is whisked away by the Autumn Prince for painting him with human emotions, a treason in Faerie.

An Enchantment of Ravens
started off pretty good. Whimsy, the place in which Isobel and her family resides is neither here nor there…it was like limbo, a place like our own but not…Whimsy was trapped in eternal Summer, fitting as it is the Summer King that currently reigns. The initial encounter between Isobel and the Autumn Prince had me smiling, because within the first couple of chapters I already knew they adored one another, they had the whole star-crossed lover vibe going on. But once Rook kidnapped Isobel from her home, the story went in a direction that I didn’t see coming. Well, a direction I had hoped that I was wrong about. Turns out I wasn’t and the direction was not for the better.

I get that Isobel has been sheltered all her life, so when Rook, a boy and a prince nonetheless entered her life he was more than appealing. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of insta-love. And this was like Insta-love to the max. Yes, teenagers often fall in love hard and quickly but it wasn’t realistic in this case. Isobel has grown-up to be careful and mindful of everything around her, especially when it came to dealing with The Fair Folks. But being around Rook had her throwing caution to the wind. Years of acquiring enchantments and stepping on eggshells around The Fair Folks gone down the drain in a blink of an amethyst eye. It made me like Isobel less and less as the story went on. And even though in the end she out witted the Summer King, she changed and more or less stayed in the lovey-dovy doe eyed state.

The world-building was great. I loved seeing the Faerie world that Rogerson created. But the plot itself wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped. At the core, this is a romance and journey story. More romance though. There wasn’t much substance. I often found myself bored as Rook and Isobel ran from The Wild Hunt and as they transversed the different courts. The reason behind Rook and Isobel running to Faerie and running away is because they were about to break The Good Law and then they actually broke the law…I just found the whole thing kind of silly. I was expecting more societal and political intrigue but instead I got two love sick teenagers running to and fro causing a mess wherever they went.

An Enchantment of Ravens had so much potential to be a great novel, and it saddens me to say this but it didn’t meet my expectations. The words written within the book didn’t live up to the beautiful cover, the promise of a captivating read. The writing was done well but the plot itself was poorly executed, lackluster and somewhat predictable. The characters were underdeveloped and I had a really hard time connecting with anyone. I never felt invested in the story or the characters, and felt myself being a bit relieved that I managed to finish the book (I don’t like DNF-ing a book). This book has gotten a lot of rave reviews, so while I didn't like it you still might! I can’t say I’d recommend this book but if you’re still interested, perhaps checking out a sample before purchasing?



Monday, October 02, 2017

Fireblood by Elly Blake


Title: Fireblood
Author: Elly Blake
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Frostblood Saga # 2

Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication: September 12, 2017 by Little Brown BFYR

Source: I received an review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest opinion.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


All hail the Fire Queen.

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…

Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.
I read and loved Frostblood when it came out earlier this year. I was even more excited when I found out Fireblood was coming out a few months later in the same year! In the first book, Frostblood, the majority of the novel took place in Tempesia, the land of the Frostblood; so naturally Fireblood, took place in Sudesia, Ruby’s homeland. After the events of the last book, the Minax is still on the loose and there is a lot of unrest upon King Ramus’s death. People are weary of their new king, especially because of his affection for Ruby. To help with the situation in Tempesia, Ruby travels with a mysterious Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia to broker a peace treaty with the Queen in hopes of uniting the two Kingdoms back to a time when they lived side by side.

I devoured Fireblood in a day! The Frostblood Saga is seriously like crack candy for the brain. I really enjoyed the latest installment in the trilogy, but it isn’t without flaws. So I’ll start with what I liked. I liked that we got to see where Ruby came from and the Fireblood Court. There isn’t much difference between the Fireblood and Frostblood Court though. The only difference I saw was that the Firebloods had a trials that anyone could take if they wanted to be a Fireblood Master. Which was an equivalent to being a solider/teacher because it showed how strong a Fireblood was and that they’d have to plead loyalty to the queen. I also liked how action-packed the novel was and how Blake kept me glued to the pages. I’ve gotten finicky when it comes to book. If a book doesn’t capture my attention within the first few chapters, I usually move on.But Blake certainly knows her ways with words.

While I found Fireblood engaging and enjoyable for the most part, it read like the first book and was way too predictable. For example, Ruby and Arcus training for the attack on the Frostblood King and Ruby and Kai training for the Fireblood Trials. Secondly, the closeness and attraction Ruby felt while training with both princes. Then the whole Minax trapped in the Fireblood Throne and it affecting the queen. Sound familiar? The big scene at the end felt like an identical representation from the last book with Arcus and Ruby using their ability to destroy the throne. I mean, yeah, Blake added another player into the mix, but again it bugged me how nothing truly changed from the first book. I never been so bored during one of the most (supposedly) important scene in the entire book. As predictability goes, I think the readers knew Ruby was going to crush on Kai. She kept saying over and over how she missed and longed for Arcus but that didn’t stop her from making out with Kai. Then of course, she had to be a long-lost princess and the cherry on top…she’s not only a Fireblood but something entirely special! I won’t spoil that for people that haven’t read it yet. I know the first book was full of the usual tropes, but this sequel just made everything more evident. Oh, and let’s not forget about the trials. The trials were made to sound dangerous and daunting but I gotta say, I thought they were plain ol' silly. I never felt like Ruby’s life was in danger, and the last trial test was the lamest of the three. Like really?

My review sounds like I disliked Fireblood more than I liked it, but that’s not the case at all. I enjoyed it and the point of reading any book is for a person to escape reality for a moment and be caught up in another world and experience another person’s life…and Fireblood did that for me. However, I wished I saw more character growth and plot development but Fireblood didn't deliver that. I will be reading the third and final book, Nightblood to see how everything ends…but I probably won’t run out and read it right away. I still recommend this series because like I said it candy for your brai
n!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

Title: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
Author: Curtis Craddock 
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Risen Kingdom # 1 

Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication: August 29, 2017 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


A polymath princess and her faithful musketeer must unravel the plot of a thousand-year-old madman in order to save an a foreign kingdom from a disastrous civil war.

Caelum is an uninhabitable gas giant like Jupiter. High above it are the Risen Kingdoms, occupying flying continents called cratons. Remnants of a shattered world, these vast disks of soaring stone may be a thousand miles across. Suspended by magic, they float in the upper layers of Caelum's clouds.

Born with a deformed hand and utter lack of the family's blood magic, Isabelle is despised by her cruel father. She is happy to be neglected so she can secretly pursue her illicit passion for math and science. Then, a surprising offer of an arranged royal marriage blows her life wide open and launches her and Jeane-Claude on an adventure that will take them from the Isle des Zephyrs in l'Empire CĂ©leste to the very different Kingdom of Aragoth, where magic deals not with blood, but with mirrors.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is a book I didn’t know I was looking for and unquestionably a breakout hit (at least for me) and an underrated gem of 2017! Never have I read a book that perfectly blended multiple genres together and done so well. I thought the world building was fascinating as it was complex, the characters were well developed and fleshed out from the main protagonists to the tertiary characters, and every word written was eloquently prosed; captivating me from the first page till the very end.

The world that Craddock created is extremely unique, multifaceted and rich. Imagine a world of sky landmasses and flying airships thanks to the outset of science and alchemy. Craddock’s world is massive, comprising of different empires and families of blood-borne sorcery that dated back thousands of years. And in this first installment of The Risen Kingdom, readers barely touch upon the surface as Craddock introduced us to our main protagonist Princess Isabelle, who came from the Sanguinaire line, an ancient line that dealt in blood magic/shadows. Isabelle was the bane of her father existence. Born with a congenital anomaly of her right-hand, no blood magic ability and a woman nonetheless; Isabelle has always been looked down upon by her father,the court and The Kingdom of Zephyrs. But what Isabelle lacked (in the eyes of others) she made up for with a lot of heart, intelligence and bravery. I absolutely adored Isabelle from the moment I saw her as the precocious child that she was. Forward a decade and some years; readers see Isabelle blossomed into a woman that she never thought she’d be; risking everything for a kingdom and it’s people that despised her as much as they feared her..hoping to bring about peace, an idea many thought silly, dubious and unattainable. I found Isabelle admirable and I loved that Craddock showed us how capable and intelligent Isabelle was versus telling the reader she is so. From her Nom de Plume as Lord DuJournal a well-known and versed Mathematician with many publications to her outwitting would-be assassins, Kantelvar a member of the Seven Great Guide, and an evil Countess.

Another great standout character was Isabelle’s trusty and loyal musketeer, Jean-Claude who is more like her confidant and father. When Isabelle was born, they tried to snuff her out but thanks to Jean-Claude’s intervention her life was spared. And it was under the direct order of the King Le Roi that Jean-Claude keep Isabelle safe from harm and danger for as long as he deemed necessary. So what initially started as an obligation transformed into a father-daughter relationship over the course of Isabelle’s life. I loved Jean-Claude as much as Isabelle. Jean-Claude played a drunken-fool so that everyone around him underestimated him; little did they know he was sharp and clever as they come and was always two steps ahead of his enemies. I thought their bond and relationship was heartwarming. There wasn’t anything Jean-Claude wouldn’t do for Isabelle, he would’ve traveled through hell and take on Lucifer himself if he had to. Jean-Claude was pragmatic and serious when the time called for it but he definitely kept me laughing and smiling with his silver-tongue throughout the entire book. I thought Jean-Claude and Isabelle made the perfect duo and loved that Craddock showcased their ever evolving relatonship, and kept that as the main tone when so many underlying threads were going on simultaneously.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is hands down the best Fantasy novel I’ve read in a long time and certainly the best book I’ve read so far this year. I loved, loved Craddock writing style. I thought everything flowed perfectly, every word he chose just fit and made sense. I also loved how he incorporated French and Spanish influences into his story; thought that was different. The plot at a glance looked fairly basic, a princess marrying a rival prince to escape her evil father…however, it was so much more complicated than anything I could of imagine. There were twist upon twist and I loved that I kept getting surprised…even when the clues were all right there! An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors has everything you’d want in a story. I LOVED this book (think I over killed it with using the word loved) and I can’t wait till the sequel comes out! Craddock is a writer to watch and has just landed on my auto-buy author list. Do yourself a favor and go to the store and get this book A.S.A.P., you won’t regret it! I see great things coming from Craddock and this new series opener. I'd rate it more than 5 stars if I could!



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Title: Ban This Book
Author: Alan Gratz
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 256 Pages
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Starscape

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library--by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, 
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That's when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate's mom thought the book wasn't appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.


Ban This Book was a wonderful surprise. Then again, when a book is about books, you can’t go wrong with it. And in this case, fourth grader Amy Anne discovered her favorite book of all time got banned from the library which prompts her and her friends to take matters into their own hands by launching the B.B.L.L. (Banned Books Locker Library); to make sure that their first amendment isn’t being restricted and that books are readily available to all those that want to read it.

I don’t read many middle grade books due to the target audience and when I do, they’re normally sci-fi or fantasy. However, like I said when a book is about a book, you just don’t pass it up. And I’m so glad I read it because the characters were realistic and the book had important messages. Which is, no one should tell you what you can and cannot read and to stand up for what you believe in. Both I wholly agree with. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Amy Anne at the start of the book. She was very timid and never spoke her mind. The first third of the book was riddled with what she wanted to say but never did. And at first it was kind of funny, but after a few pages it just got tiring. Thankfully Amy Anne learned to voice her opinion, and even challenged the school board. And in voicing her opinion and for standing up for what she believed in, she and her fellow classmates were able to overturn the rule on the banned books! The ending was definitely my favorite scene in the entire book, when she pulled out that old library cataloging card!

I really enjoyed Ban This Book. It had me smiling throughout and I even shed a little tear at the end. While this book is targeted for readers age 13 and younger, I think it will appeal to adults and teens as well. I am very much way out of the target group but found myself liking it more than I thought I was going to. Ban This Book should be a reading requirement in class and should be in every single library. You’ll like this one, I guarantee it!



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Title: The Last Magician 
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Genre: Young Adult
Series: The Last Magician #1

Hardcover, 512 Pages
Publication: July 18, 2017 by Simon Pulse

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
 


The Last Magician has been on my radar since the cover reveal months ago. After seeing it and reading the synopsis I knew it was going to be one of 2017’s most wanted/anticipated novels. And it certainly was, staying on the NYT Bestseller List for weeks! The Last Magician had a lot going for it involving magic, politics, societal issues, time-traveling, heist/con, well-thought out world building, great characters and so much more. Unlike most YA novels on the market, The Last Magician was pretty hefty in terms of page number and had a complex world-building. I thought Maxwell did an amazing job capturing New York during the 1900’s. The vivid imagery/details clearly showed the amount of time and research that went into the story. I truly felt as if I was there and that the characters were realistic, made whole/fleshed as if they were alive. I love the whole Gangs of New York feel with Magic (Yes, I know the movie is set in the 1800’s)!

At a glance, you’d expect or assume The Last Magician to be some sort of boarding school novel with magical users dealing with adolescent issues. Nope. The Last Magician was more dark, gritty and it had a whole lot of street smarts involved. I loved Maxwell’s take on magicians and the magic system. Maegus, are those born with magical powers and are feared by the common man who put up a magical/aetheral barrier “The Brink” to severely damage/kill those who posses any hint of magic because they believed it to be evil and feral. I liked that the majority of our characters are also approximately eighteen-years-old to late twenties, and back then the times made one grow-up even quicker than they wanted to. Our heroine, Etsa is seventeen but from a young age she was taught to be a weapon, using her training and ability to make her a undetectable and uncatchable thief. I adore Etsa, she’s independent, a quick thinker, resourceful and smart. Dolph’s crew was an eclectic bunch, all Maegus of varying abilities with the common goal of taking down the order, bringing magic back to it’s former glory and to protect those that cannot protect themselves. Each member was distinctly unique and had an interesting back story that I wouldn’t mind exploring more of like; Jianyu and Viola, both related to rival gangs, but find themselves in the employment/gang of Dolph Saunder, an enigmatic character (it’d be awesome to see his rise to power, I see a story or novella in the future!)

While The Last Magician is part time-traveling, the majority of the story is set in the past in the year 1901. Which I didn’t mind, I am quite fond of this century. All in all, The Last Magician lived up to the hype and was way better than what I expected. I love everything about this book. I am so glad this is part of a duology because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters.Despite the book clocking out at over 500 page, it was a quick read that had me from the very first page! The beginning was a bit confusing jumping back and forth from the past and present, but it was a good surprise when all the thread came together. And that ending! I was so engrossed into what was happening that I didn’t even see it coming, talk about a shocker! Loved it! If you haven’t read this new series starter, go out and get it now. I highly recommend it!



Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Hearts we Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Hearts we Sold
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Gene: Urban Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 400 Pages
Publication: August 8, 2017 by Little Brown BFYR

Source: I received a review copy from the NOVL Newsletter in exchange for a honest review.

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When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

I’ve always found tales of Faustian bargains fascinating. How someone can just throw away their values and beliefs and make a deal with the devil for ambitious reasons; contradicting everything they stand for. It’s a conundrum. I haven’t read many Faustian books, so when I heard about The Hearts we Sold, I knew I had to read it! I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of it through The Novl newsletter (THANK YOU!) and it was way better than I thought. The Hearts we Sold had a lot of heart and though the plot and the writing was light and straightforward; it also explored deep issues and messages that many readers will appreciate. I know I certainly did.

In The Hearts we Sold, the daemons have made themselves known to the world. They have gain notoriety for making deals with humans; a wish in exchange for a body part. Some daemons deal in eyes, mouths, legs, or arms. But In Dee’s case, her daemon required leasing a heart for two years. And in the two years, the recipients are required to do his bidding. Which entail the ‘heartless’ to close voids (portals to a different dimension).

Dee has a pretty crappy life, her parents are alcoholics and are constantly putting her down and treating her like their personal maid. And Dee’s only escape comes in a form of a scholarship to a fancy private school. But when the school decides to cut the scholarship kids and Dee is desperate to stay…she makes a deal with a Daemon for money to pay her school tuition. This choice turns everything up on its head for Dee and giving up her heart and as she goes on missions with the other heartless teenagers; does she truly live.

I really liked Dee and seeing her transformation over the course of the book. It was a drastic change for the better. She took more chances and risks, stood up for herself and made hard choices that pushed her to move forward. All qualities I liked seeing in character development/growth. The romance aspect was very sweet and I liked that it didn’t play a central role in the story and instead it supported it. The ending nearly broke my heart. It was bittersweet and unexpected and took me completely by surprise; my kind of endings.

The Hearts we Sold took an idea and themes we’re all familiar with and made it it’s own and wholly original. At a glance The Hearts we Sold may seem like just another paranormal YA but it was so much more than that…it tackled a lot of important issues and had messages that will stay with me forever. Lloyd-Jones is a writer to watch. I highly recommend The Hearts we Sold. I haven’t been this surprised by a book in a long time and The Hearts we Sold is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year! I'm so glad I got a chance to read it, otherwise I may have never picked it up myself.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

Title: The Glass Arrow
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: Dystopian 
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 334 Pages
Publication: February 10, 2015 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity/Tor Books in exchange for a honest review.

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The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
 
I became a fan of Simmons after reading her standalone novel, Metaltown which also happens to be a Dystopian. And after the successful of Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale I was more than eager to check out Simmons’s earlier novel, The Glass Arrow which also painted a bleak and oppressive society for women. Similar to Atwood’s novel, The Glass Arrows’s world covet child baring women, where they’ve become a highly fetched commodity and are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Girls are breed to continue this never-ending vicious cycle.

The Glass Arrow is narrated and centered around Aya, a free teenager who is later captured, renamed Clover and ended up sharing the same fate as the girls in The Garden (camp/prison). The girls all await their turn to be auction up, some fight against the idea while others embrace it. Aya is definitely the former. And for the majority of the book, Aya is constantly contemplating her plans for escape. This made for a very slow pace novel, which wasn’t something I was used to in Dystopian novel. But don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and seeing exactly what Aya thought. What I found interesting and refreshing was how normal Aya and the girls were. Also unlike most Dystopian heroines, Aya isn’t trying to incite some rebellion against the Government but she’s only thinking of herself; surviving and getting back to her adopted family. I liked that. I liked that a lot.

While The Glass Arrow wasn’t ground breaking or new, it still had a lot going for it. If you’re looking for something to hold you over till the next season of Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, I suggest checking out Simmons’s The Glass Arrow, which is a frightening realistic possibility of our future.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Roar by Cora Carmack

Title: Roar
Author: Cora Carmack
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Stormheart # 1

Hardcover, 380 Pages
Publication: June 13, 2017 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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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.

Roar was one of my highly anticipated reads of 2017 and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never read anything by Carmack but I’ve heard great things about her new adult series and was excited to finally check out her novel and what better way then to check out her debut novel, Roar.

2017 seemed to be the year of high fantasy and science fiction but most of the Young Adult novels released started to blend and bleed together. They were too similar to one another that it was difficult to set itself truly apart. Roar didn’t have this problem, as there are very few elemental novels on the market. The concept of the Roar was unique and refreshing. My favorite aspect of the novel was the world building. The Lands of Caelira consisted of different kingdoms, each family of nobility descended from a Stormling (those with the power to weld storms or any element such as rain, fire etc). The book was center around Aurora Pavan, a princess and heir to the Pavan Kingdom. Unlike the other kingdoms’ heirs, Aurora had no stormling abilities and the only way to protect her kingdom was to marry into another stormling family. Upon meeting her betrothed and learning more about him and his plans; Aurora fleed the kingdom and joined a group of storm hunters. She hoped by capturing her own stormhearts, she would have the power to protect her people and be the queen she was destined to be.

I loved how independent Aurora was, like the whole princess that can save herself and didn't need a prince or man. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a prince or man vying for Aurora’s hand. Aurora may not have had any powers but what she lacked, she made up for in brains and skills. Not only was Aurora extremely book smart, can speak five languages, but she can also fight as well and is skilled with swords and bow and arrows. Locke, one of the love interest was your typical alpha male. And at first I thought it was all swoon worthy but as the book progressed Locke just became more dubious. He was very protective and possessive of Aurora to the point where it was creepy and bothersome. Since I’m pretty sure this novel played out over the course of a few days, I thought that was just falling too fast. And although, his behavior got uncomfortable, it didn’t take away from me enjoying the story.

Roar is an excellent start to a new series and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Aurora ‘Roar’ and the storm hunters…Especially when she can no longer hide her identity! All in all, great world building, characters and writing. I highly recommend it!


Monday, July 10, 2017

The Song of the Orphans by Daniel Price

Title: The Song of the Orphans
Author: Daniel Price
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: The Silvers #2

Hardcover, 748 Pages
Publication: July 4, 2017 by Blue Rider Press

Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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After their world collapsed in a sheet of white light, everything and everyone were gone—except for Hannah and Amanda Given. Saved from destruction by three fearsome and powerful beings, the Given sisters found themselves on a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances. There, they were joined by four other survivors: a sarcastic cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had, and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions began a cross-country journey to find the one man who could save them.

Now, only months after being pursued across the country by government forces and the Gothams—a renegade group with similar powers—the Silvers discover that their purpose on this unfamiliar earth may be to prevent its complete annihilation. With continually shifting alliances and the future in jeopardy, the Silvers realize that their only hope for survival is to locate the other refugees—whether they can be trusted or not.

The Song of the Orphans is the second installment in The Silvers Trilogy following an eclectic group from an alternate earth with super powers. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re destined to save this new earth and the only way to do so is to unite with one another, Silver with Gold, and enemies that become unlikely allies.

This was one hefty book with over 700 pages! However, don’t feel put-off or discouraged by its enormous size because once you start it; you’ll finish the book before you even know it. I haven’t had the chance to read the first book, The Flight of the Silvers, so I was a little bit confused in the beginning. I don’t recommend going into The Song of the Orphans without reading the first book. The world building and characters are very complex and I certainly felt like I was missing a lot of their back story and development. However, Price did do a great job at summarizing some of the events and the characters’ background. Once I got through the first 4-5 chapters I was fully engrossed into the story and characters and had a pretty good idea of how the world worked and of the terminology used.

I really enjoyed The Song of the Orphans, so much so, that I plan on going back and read the first book in the series when I get the chance. The Song of the Orphans is the epitome of a perfect Superheroes versus Villains novel but with so much more substance. Again with The Song of the Orphans clocking out at approximately 750 pages, Price’s storytelling flowed flawlessly ensuring readers never a dull moment and characters you automatically connect with where you can’t help but care to see what happens to them next. I highly recommend everyone to check this series out if you haven’t already. It’s definitely the best Sci-fi novel I’ve read in years!


Monday, July 03, 2017

Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: Deadmen Walking
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon 
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Deadman's Cross #1

Hardcover, 384 Pages
Publication: May 9, 2017 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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To catch evil, it takes evil.

Enter Devyl Bane an ancient dark warlord returned to the human realm as one of the most notorious pirates in the New World. A man of many secrets, Bane makes a pact with Thorn an immortal charged with securing the worst creations the ancient gods ever released into our world. Those powers have been imprisoned for eons behind enchanted gates . . . gates that are beginning to buckle. At Thorn s behest, Bane takes command of a crew of Deadmen and, together, they are humanity s last hope to restore the gates and return the damned to their hell realms.

But things are never so simple. And one of Bane s biggest problems is the ship they sail upon. For the Sea Witch isn t just a vessel, she s also a woman born of an ancient people he wronged and who in turn wronged him during a centuries long war between their two races a woman who is also sister to their primary target. Now Marcelina, the Sea Witch, must choose. Either she remains loyal to her evil sister and almost extinct race against Bane and his cause, and watches humanity fall, or she puts faith in an enemy who has already betrayed her. Her people over the totality of humanity let s hope Bane can sway her favor.

This is kind of embarrassing to say, but I have never read a book by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Ever. Anyone who reads within the Paranormal/Fantasy Genre has read one of her series, or at least a novel of hers. I’ve heard great things about her Dark-Hunter and Chronicles of Nick Series but never gotten around to reading them. So when I heard about Kenyon’s latest series, Deadmen’s Cross featuring demons and pirates, I all but jumped on the chance to read it. And I am so glad I did. It was packed with endless action, witty dialogue, unique mythology and great world-building and characters.

After reading a couple of reviews, it seem that Deadmen’s Cross is a series within Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Universe, with a couple of characters mentioned and showing up. Deadmen Walking is set in the 1700s and follows Devyl Bane and his crew of the dead. Kenyon heavily incorporates Norse Mythology and probably others that I’ve never heard about which made for a very interesting read. There was definitely a lot of characters, each with their own history and background. I loved learning about everyone, especially Bane’s crew. Being dead for a reason, the crew gave the impression that they were the kind of evil, even hell didn’t want. But as readers come to learn of their haunted past; it turned out to be more melancholic and heartbreaking then I could imagine. The world that Kenyon created is meticulous and multifaceted but she wrote it in a way that I never felt lost or confused. Which is very important and has happened in new series more often then I’d like to admit.

Deadmen Walking is a Paranormal Romance, something I wasn’t aware of upon starting it. If anyone has read my reviews or follows the blog know that I rarely read them. I usually like my stories focused on one pair of leads throughout a series versus a new lead in subsequent books. However, as I said I really liked the cast and am more than likely going to pick up the next book even if it doesn’t feature Devyl and Mara. Overall, I thought Deadmen Walking was an excellent series opener. Kenyon’s old fans will be delighted to see a new series in the Dark-Hunter Universe while new fans will devour this and will be jumping on another series as we wait for the next Deadmen’s Cross novel which hits stores in 2018; featuring Merman Kalder and the Seraphina Cameron. I loved Deadmen Walking and highly recommend it! It certainly deserve the hype it was getting!