Review: The Bone Witch

NER REVIEWS (theonewitch)

Author: Rin Chupeco
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Witches | Paranormal
Idiom: English
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Read: from August 23 to September 4, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492635826 
(Hardcover)
Cups:
3 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

 

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco!

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Bone Witch was a rather peculiar book. I say this in a good way because, trust me, this book wasn’t like anything I’ve read before. And that was one of the best qualities of it.

And I have to warn you, before you continue reading, that this review won’t make any sense at all! It’s a rather complicated book to review which so many things I still haven’t figured out but I’ll get to that in a moment. I will try my best to explain myself properly but I’m pretty sure it’ll end up being one of those reviews were nothing makes sense!

Okay, here we go:

One of the main reasons I really wanted to read The Bone Witch (apart from the extremely beautiful cover… I mean, look at it!), was the premise. A young girl who finds out she’s a bone witch, a witch who can resurrect the dead and then leaves home in order to become a rather powerful witch? Yes, please! It sounded just like up my alley and I couldn’t stop myself from requesting it on NetGalley when I got the chance.

So, the book starts with our main character, Tea, telling her story to this bard who wants to write a book about her. So she’s starts by telling him about when she found out she had the power to resurrect people. And she found it out by resurrecting her dead brother – who later ends up having this amazing capacity to joke about his death and being “dead” that is hilarious. After being pushed aside by her family and her village, another bone witch finds her and takes her away so she can train to become a proper bone witch with the asha – women with magical ability. 

And this is where things become messy. This book is complex guys, trust me. There are a lot thing I’m still not sure I fully understood the concept. Somethings I’m quite sure I didn’t grasp them entirely.

So, we have the asha who are witches who can use any elemental ability and then you have the dark asha who are the bone witches – these ones are kind of rare. Each one trains in order to become this sort of Geisha but also train to fight against these monsters – the daeva – who are dead but once in a while resurrect – the bastards! But only the dark asha can truly kill them. And you also have the deathseekers who are the like the male version of the asha – apart from the geisha part – they’re more like soldiers trained in magic.

Then there’s these heartglasses that contain a person’s “heart” and some people can read their emotions through their colour – Tea is one of them. And there’s the forger and his apprentice who can create people’s hearts by using someone else’s memories – this is a topic I’m still not sure about but I do like the whole heartglass concept in general.

Then, the most complicated part for me since I feel like this part of the story was simply thrown out at us readers instead of properly explained; the Faceless and the False Prince. As far as I could gather, the Faceless are the followers of this False Prince but who the heck this prince is, I have no idea. Maybe in the upcoming books – or book – we’ll get to know him and his history properly but for now I’m kind of lost.

Alright, I think this covers the things I’m still slightly confused about but, and despite the fact I didn’t fully grasp the idea Rin Chupeco had intended to express, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the action of the book. 

In my opinion, a person can enjoy a book even if he/she didn’t fully understand the main universe. As long as the main plot and the characters are interesting enough, I don’t see why you can’t enjoy it.

Anyway, moving on to the things I did like.

Tea from the future telling her story to the bard. I loved it! It makes you super curious about what the heck happened that eventually led to Tea being where she is.

Tea and Fox’s – her brother – bond and relationship. The fact that she resurrected him created this deeper bond between then that allows each other to know what the other feels and thinks. And Fox turned out to be one of the best characters in the book due to his sense of humour.

Tea’s “sisters” who help her train alongside her mentor, Mykaela. Those two, Polaire and Althy were, perhaps, my two favourite characters in the whole book, before Fox! Their humour, their opposite personality and abilities just made the story so much lighter. I hope to read more about them in the upcoming books!

And something that happened at the end of the book, a discovery that has to do with Tea in the future (or is it the present?) that had me surprised and so excited even though I saw it coming like miles away.

Anyway, the first half of the book dragged a little for me because it was a fantasy YA version of Memoirs of a Geisha (totally stealing it from the blurb and since I saw the movie but never read the book, I think I can compare the two of them!). It was more centred around Tea’s duties as a servant first and then as an asha in training – the practising her dance moves, singing, etiquette, history and whatnot.

But then you had the magic element to the story where Tea trained how to fight against weapons and magic alike, how to control her ability as a bone witch and how to use herbs and all.

There isn’t much I can say more about The Bone Witch to be honest  and I feel that my review did little to express my true feelings about the book.

I mean, I’m pretty sure you are thinking: “but you have so many negative – negative might be a strong word here – things about this but ended up rating a 3 cups?”

But, trust me on this when I say that this is one of those books I cannot explain why I kind of liked it despite those negative things – I can only say: “read it!”. It’s a sort of book that you simply have to be the one judging – a review, or someone else’s opinion, won’t be that enlightening to you.

In the end, The Bone Witch was a rather interesting and peculiar read. It’s also a book that I think will make you think and will move your feelings in strange directions. And despite all those things I didn’t grasp – which I’m hoping to understand upon a second reading and/or with the sequel – I understood t enough to realise the potential of it, how great it can become. I will definitely continue reading this series.
Ner

Review + Spotlight: Labyrinth Lost

NER REVIEWS (labyrinthlost)

Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Magic | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Read: from August 19 to 23
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492620945
(Hardcover)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

“Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic.”-Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by just saying that I never read anything like this before. At first I thought this was a different kind of witchcraft, of religion and when I finally picked it up and submerged in the story, I realised I was wrong. And I loved it because it made me enjoy the story even more.

Labyrinth Lost is about Alex who is a Bruja – a specific kind of witch based on the Latin witchcraft. On her Deathday (in celebration of her powers finally appearing), she casts a spell to eliminate her powers but instead she sends her family, dead and alive, to Los Lagos, a parallel dimension where Gods, spirits, strange beings and much more dwell. With the help of a strange boy, Alex embarks in an adventure that will surely change her.

Alex was a great character to read about. Her past helps build her trepidation when it comes to her abilities but the way she develops throughout the story made up for her fears. When we first met her she’s a scared teenager who kept her powers hidden from her sisters because she’s scared of them. What she doesn’t know is that her powers are special and she’ll need them later on the book in order to save her whole family. In Los Lagos we see this other side of Alex that was hidden behind her fears and I adored watching her grow, watching her develop not only this amazing magic she has but also herself as a person.

I have to admit that I’m super curious about Nova, the boy Alex meets and tells her about what to do to block her power during her Deathday. He’s a lost soul who is trying to find himself in the world and what we find towards the end of the book was, for me at least, completely unexpected. I’m pretty sure there’s much more to his character than meets the eye and I hope he’ll be able to redeem all his wrong-doing in the upcoming books.

The romance in this book wasn’t your typical boy-meets-girl love. This book explores a romance that grew from friendship and tries to break boundaries. It wasn’t the romance I was expecting but I was so happy with what I got. I’m trying not to spoil you because I found it refreshing to discover it by myself instead of instantly knowing what it was about. Zoraida Córdova really broke some lines writing this romance and I can only respect her for doing so and doing it amazingly well.

The magic, as I mentioned right in the beginning of the review, wasn’t what I was expecting nor was it something I knew in details. This particular kind of witchcraft, more based on the Latins beliefs and religions, centred in Gods and spirits, was a gulf of fresh air. There are so many kinds of magic in the world and being able to emerge myself in a different felt amazing. At times I would be slightly lost since I am not accustomed to this particular kind of witches. But then Alex would explain it and as soon as I found the flow, it was easy to be mesmerised by it.

I dare say that even though I enjoyed this book, only when Alex and Nova enter Los Lagos did I became completely hooked in it. Los Lagos sounded like such a thrilling rollercoaster of fantasy. This parallel world was filled from top to bottom with everything fantastical. It reminded me of the movie Book of Life minus the songs.

The book ended in a cliffhanger that had me gasping for more. It ended with a figure from the past that I’m pretty sure will have a huge impact in Alex’s life. This might sound a little bit unfair but one of the reasons I couldn’t rate this book higher than 4 cups/stars was the cliffhanger. So many questions! So many theories! So little answers and I have no idea when the sequel comes out.

Zoraida Córdova‘s writing was easy and it flew with the story. The author managed to give Alex a voice that some of us could relate to and at times her sarcasm was a delight to read. The little bits of excerpt from songs, prayers and others at the beginning of each chapter was a nice touch since it connected really well with what was going to happen.

Overall I think Labyrinth Lost was a great read set in a different spectrum of magic. There is loads of fantastic elements to the story, some creepy moments, characters that are unique since they are so different and a lesson at the end that I think pretty much everyone will relate to. I recommend this book if you want something magical yet different and if you like pure and raw fantastical adventure in a completely different universe.  

Book Spotlight

NetGalley and Sourcebooks were kind enough to send me material to host a Spotlight for Labyrinth Lost and I’m super excited to share an excerpt of the book and a giveaway. There’s also the booktrailer to present you to this creepy and magical world 😀

In the meantime, if you guys like colouring like I do, check out the amazing colouring page that Sourcebooks has available for Labyrinth Lost here. Need to print my own so I can colour it! If, or when, you have coloured it, leave me a link down below on the comments so I can see it 😉

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“This work is a magical journey from start to finish… A compelling must-have for teens” –School Library Journal, STARRED review

Córdova’s (the Vicious Deep series) magic-infused, delightfully dark story introduces readers to an engrossing, Latin American–inspired fantasy setting and an irresistible heroine” –Publishers Weekly

A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno.Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper

 “Labyrinth Lost is more like reading Paradise Found. Zoraida Córdova brings us a new generation of witches, enchanting and complex. And every page is filled with magic.” Danielle Page, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

Córdova’s world will leave you breathless, and her magic will ignite an envy so green you’ll wish you were born a bruja. Delightfully dark and enchanting. An un-putdownable book.” -Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and Shiny Broken Pieces

“Córdova’s rich exploration of Latin American culture, her healthy portrayal of bisexuality and her unique voice allow this novel to stand out among its many peers.” –RT Book Reviews

“Cordova draws inspiration from Ecuadorian, Spanish, African, Mexican, and Caribbean folklore and mythology to craft a page-turning tale about a young bruja unsure of her place in the world.”Bustle.com

“Córdova pulls elements from Greek mythology and Spanish and Latin American legends to craft a memorable world in Los Lagos, a supernatural realm that is as fascinating as it is threatening. The history and customs of Alex’s family’s type of witchery are also carefully constructed, giving readers a complete world to sink into with satisfaction and wonder.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This succeeds with its lush use of Latin American mythologies, an unexpected love story, and, above all, in Alex’s complicated relationship with her family. Alex is a necessary heroine, and this dark fantasy nicely” -Booklist

Excerpt:

1

Follow our voices, sister.
Tell us the secret of your death.
—-Resurrection Canto,
Book of Cantos

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.

Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

But I was seven and asked too many questions. Every Sunday, cars piled up in our driveway, down the street, and around the corner of our old, narrow house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mom’s Circle usually brought cellophane–wrapped dishes and jars of dirt and tubs of brackish water that made the Hudson River look clean. This time, they carried something more.

When my sisters started snoring, I threw off my covers and crept down the stairs. The floorboards were uneven and creaky, but I was good at not being seen. Fuzzy, yellow streetlight shone through our attic window and followed me down every flight until I reached the basement.

A soft hum made its way through the thin walls. I remember thinking I should listen to my mom’s warning and go back upstairs. But our house had been restless all week, and Lula, Rose, and I were shoved into the attic, out of the way while the grown–ups prepared the funeral. I wanted out. I wanted to see.

The night was moonless and cold one week after the Witch’s New Year, when Aunt Rosaria died of a sickness that made her skin yellow like hundred–year–old paper and her nails turn black as coal. We tried to make her beautiful again. My sisters and I spent all day weaving good luck charms from peonies, corn husks, and string—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. Not even the morticians, the Magos de Muerte, could fix her once–lovely face.

Aunt Rosaria was dead. I was there when we mourned her. I was there when we buried her. Then, I watched my father and two others shoulder a dirty cloth bundle into the house, and I knew I couldn’t stay in bed, no matter what my mother said.

So I opened the basement door.

Red light bathed the steep stairs. I leaned my head toward the light, toward the beating sound of drums and sharp plucks of fat, nylon guitar strings.

A soft mew followed by whiskers against my arm made my heart jump to the back of my rib cage. I bit my tongue to stop the scream. It was just my cat, Miluna. She stared at me with her white, glowing eyes and hissed a warning, as if telling me to turn back. But Aunt Rosaria was my godmother, my family, my friend. And I wanted to see her again.

“Sh!” I brushed the cat’s head back.

Miluna nudged my leg, then ran away as the singing started.

I took my first step down, into the warm, red light. Raspy voices called out to our gods, the Deos, asking for blessings beyond the veil of our worlds. Their melody pulled me step by step until I was crouched at the bottom of the landing.

They were dancing.

Brujas and brujos were dressed in mourning white, their faces painted in the aspects of the dead, white clay and black coal to trace the bones. They danced in two circles—-the outer ring going clockwise, the inner counterclockwise—hands clasped tight, voices vibrating to the pulsing drums.

And in the middle was Aunt Rosaria.

Her body jerked upward. Her black hair pooled in the air like she was suspended in water. There was still dirt on her skin. The white skirt we buried her in billowed around her slender legs. Black smoke slithered out of her open mouth. It weaved in and out of the circle—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. It tugged Aunt Rosaria higher and higher, matching the rhythm of the canto.

Then, the black smoke perked up and changed its target. It could smell me. I tried to backpedal, but the tiles were slick, and I slid toward the circle. My head smacked the tiles. Pain splintered my skull, and a broken scream lodged in my throat.

The music stopped. Heavy, tired breaths filled the silence of the pulsing red dark. The enchantment was broken. Aunt Rosaria’s reanimated corpse turned to me. Her body purged black smoke, lowering her back to the ground. Her ankles cracked where the bone was brittle, but still she took a step. Her dead eyes gaped at me. Her wrinkled mouth growled my name:Alejandra.

She took another step. Her ankle turned and broke at the joint, sending her flying forward. She landed on top of me. The rot of her skin filled my nose, and grave dirt fell into my eyes.

Tongues clucked against crooked teeth. The voices of the circle hissed, “What’s the girl doing out of bed?”

There was the scent of extinguished candles and melting wax. Decay and perfume oil smothered me until they pulled the body away.

My mother jerked me up by the ear, pulling me up two flights of stairs until I was back in my bed, the scream stuck in my throat like a stone.

Never,” she said. “You hear me, Alejandra? Never break a Circle.”

I lay still. So still that after a while, she brushed my hair, thinking I had fallen asleep.

I wasn’t. How could I ever sleep again? Blood and rot and smoke and whispers filled my head.

“One day you’ll learn,” she whispered.

Then she went back down the street–lit stairs, down into the warm red light and to Aunt Rosaria’s body. My mother clapped her hands, drums beat, strings plucked, and she said, “Again.”

Book Trailer:


About the Author:

zoraida-head-shotZoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York.

She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series.

She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro or visit her at zoraidacordova.com.

Author Website | Labyrinth Lost Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Author Tumblr | Labyrinth Lost Tumblr | YouTube

Giveaway:

  • 2 (two) copies of Labyrinth Lost with signed Labyrinth Lost bookmarks (ends September 19th – US & Canada only)

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Ner

Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: 47North
Pages: 296 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Magic | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from August 4 to 13, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781503935600 
(Paperback)
Cups:
3 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and 47North for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

At first glance this is definitely my kind of book – magic, fantasy, ghosts, etc… But when I first started reading this book it turned out to be quite different from what I first thought. It ended up being a little bit more complex than a simple fantasy and magic book and in a way I really enjoyed it. But I think that since I was expecting something different, I ended up not fully appreciating Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet.

This book is about Maire, a young woman who doesn’t remember anything from her past but has a gift: she can infuse her cakes with whatever sort of emotion she wants. One day she’s capture by a band of raiders and sold as a slave to this stranger named Allemas. He wants her for her power, making her cook and selling her talents. At the same time, Maire is being visited by a ghost who might hold the key to her past. 

Maire was a character that I really enjoyed. At first the fact that she doesn’t know anything about her past might be a little uncomfortable but you get to know it with her, at the same time as Maire. And she’s a strong character; with Allemas she does through so much but never once falters and keeps going, keeps surviving.

The ghost, Fyel, is an enigma. It’s certain he knows Maire and that he could help her remember. But he can’t tell her everything, always speaking in riddles and never once giving her a straight answer. He can’t, actually. At first you don’t really know what to make of him but as the story unfolds and Maire begins to slowly remember her past, we also begin to understand who Fyel is.  

As for Allemas, at the end I wasn’t expecting his true identity, his true propose. During the whole book he is this strange man who seems to be having a battle with himself. Almost like a child in a grown-up man’s body. But the truth is so different from what I could come up with. It explained a few things about him but others I was left a little bit in doubt.

The story on itself was deep and complex, not at all what you first thing when you start reading the book. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet ends up being a book about something far greater and grander than simple magic. It is magic, but a different kind of magic that goes beyond simple witchcraft.

The writing was easy to follow and it flew after a few chapters. I struggled slightly in the beginning since I wasn’t actually managing to set the story straight. But when I began to understand Maire’s voice, understand the background setting around her and got involved in the story, it was a rather fast and easy reading.  

There was a small part of the story that I really like and you can say it’s only details – they don’t actually add nothing to the story only to help Maire’s powers. Twice in the book Allemas tells Maire to use her abilities to other people and it ended up being connected with a few fairytales/classics. I’m not going to tell you because it’s fun to realise it as you read Magic Bitter Magic Sweet. But I can tell you that when I connected the dots, I found it quite intelligent.

Overall, Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was a good book but the complexity of it made me enjoy it but not love it. It has magic, a really good character and a plot that was definitely not what I first expected but in the end, despite all the qualities of it, it was only a book I enjoyed. And, as I mentioned before, the fact that I was expecting something different and was kind of disappointed (perhaps disappointed is a strong word but the lack of other) with how it turned out to be, I couldn’t rate it more than 3 cups/stars. Still, it was a nice book with a twist in the end I liked and a bit of a lesson in the end.
Ner

Review: And I Darken

NER REVIEWS (andidarken)

Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Pages: 484 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Historical | Romance
Idiom: English
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Read: from July 16 to 25, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780552573740
(Paperback)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took me a while to come to terms with myself when it comes to this book. And I Darken was a book I couldn’t rate straight after finishing it because I was conflicted. I mean, I liked it, a lot, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on that just didn’t allow me to rate it. I had to distance myself from it in order to organise my ideas. And, now, after almost a month, I can say that this book was amazing!

Before advancing into the review, I need to say that I felt a little bit bipolar while I was reading this. If you follow me on Goodreads and have been up to date with my reading status there, you might have noticed that while I was reading And I Darken, I kept switching from “not entirely sure about this” to “ok, this is getting super interesting” in a matter of pages. I think it just took me a while to get into the writing style, to follow the voice of the narrator and the story itself. In the end, I couldn’t actually see this book written in any other way.

This book is pretty much the beginning of Vlad the Impaler’s story but with a twist – it’s a gender swap story and it’s Lada the hero. Set in the Ottoman Empire in the fifteen-century, Lada and Radu are pretty much abandoned by their father in this huge and intimidating Empire, leaving their home, Wallachia, behind. As they grow up, Lada begins to plan her revenge and a way for her to reclaim her home back. Until she meets the Sultan’s son, Mehmed, and Radu and Lada are torn between their home and their friendship.

Lada was a character that I found hard to understand at first. I mean, she’s a kick-ass character indeed, managing to be more than a woman in such a close-minded empire where women pretty much don’t have any right. She loves her brother Radu and would rather hurt him to protect and save him than let him enter her heart and see him in pain (she prefers to be the one hurting). When she meets Mehmed, she becomes more of a determined young woman than a scared child. And when she falls for Mehmed, she reveals another side of her that spent most of her life locked. But for me, the best aspect of Lada was her want to be a warrior, her determination to be more than a concubine in a men’s world – she wanted to be someone worth following. Her insecurities are part of her will to protect both her brother and Mehmed. Under her mask of bad-ass hero, she’s a human being trying to save those she loves.

Radu was, in my opinion, the most developed character in the story. He is the opposite of Lada. He’s frightened, pretty much her shadow while growing up. Until he meets Mehmed and his determination is to save, protect and love him. He grows into this young man that is no longer afraid. And though his relationship with Lada has its ups and downs, there’s always this bond between that is unbreakable no matter what.

Actually, Radu’s story ended up hooking far more than Lada though I enjoyed both of them. Why? Radu has a secret that in such a medieval period and part of the world is pretty much tabu – Radu falls in love with Mehmed! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a twist I admit I did not see coming. And somehow it was a twist that made the story and the relationship between siblings so more interesting and intense. Was it a weird love-triangle involving siblings? Yes, but the fact that both of them love the same person in different ways was very interesting and gave Radu such depth I couldn’t help but feel for him.

Mehmed was the character that helps the siblings as they are thrown into this new world where they’re nothing more than leverage. He helps Lada and Radu have a place, a meaning and even though he wasn’t my favourite character, he played a big part in their lives. Without Mehmed, Lada and Radu wouldn’t develop the way they did and wouldn’t grow up to become such powerful players in this big empire. I think his character has a lot more to offer in future books and I’m waiting for him to understand Radu a little bit more.

The writing at first sounded strange to me. The narrators voice sounded off, distance. Only when Lada and Radu finally meet Mehmed and their friendship blooms, I began to feel the narrator’s voice. I guess that was one of the main reasons I was, at first, reluctant in continuing reading this book.

But when I finally got into the narrator’s flow and found its voice, I began to enjoy the book so much I was pretty much hooked. 

The historical aspects of And I Darken were somewhat knew to me since this is part of history we barely know that much and getting into this new world was slightly strange. The Ottoman Empire really gives the story such a complex background to the book that it makes it even more interesting.

Overall, And I Darken is a great book filled with action, political intrigue, religion diversity, secrets, betrayal and history. I dare say this is an intense book that will make you curious about history, determined as Lada and cunning as Radu. I became attached to the siblings and will be waiting for the continuation of their story. I cannot wait to see Lada as the Impaler.
Ner

Review: Zenith

NER REVIEWS (zenith)

Author(s): Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Release Date: June 21st, 2016
Publisher: Mirabel Inc.
Pages: 62 (epub)
Format: epub
Genre:
 YA | Sci-Fi | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: The Androma Saga #1
Read: June 1, 2016
Source & Shelf: Kindle App | Kindle
ISBN: 9781311167606

Cups:
3,5 Cups
GoodreadsKoboAmazon

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

There is darkness sweeping across the stars.

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

From internet sensation Sasha Alsberg and author Lindsay Cummings comes a new serialized space opera, full of action, fantastical intrigue, and steamy star-crossed romance.

For fans of popular sci-fi books and fantasy books for teens such as Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Wool by Hugh Howey, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: I wrote this review before the news of Sasha’s and Lindsay’s announcement concerning the future of Zenith – the book is going to be published through Harlequin Teen in 2017. In the meantime, congratulations to both 🙂 

As a fan of Sasha Alsberg‘s BookTube channel, abookutopia, I had to get my hands on her debut book alongside friend Lindsay Cummings (also the author of The Murder Complex). And, let me tell you, this was an amazing book. But it was so short… I mean, I want more.

For those who don’t know, Zenith is a serialised book series, meaning that the authors will be publishing the book in individual parts. And this first part was an amazing kick-off for what I can already see as a kick-ass series. 

Zenith is about Androma, or Andi, and her all-female crew who are space pirates. Yes, you read that right, space pirates. They are travelling space in their ship the Marauder until they are on their way to a mission but get caught.

Andi was such a kick-ass character to meet. She’s also called the Bloody Baroness and the name really suits her – she is deadly. I am really looking forward to know more about her past, to know her better and to simply continue exploring this character that has the potential to be one of the best female characters in YA. Sure, there is a Celaena Sardothian vibe to her but I managed to skip that and enjoy Andi.

The rest of the girls were also kick-ass characters but as of right now, because of how short this was and was mostly centred on Andi, I didn’t connect with them. But I’m positive that with the rest of the series we might get to know them better and deeper.

There were perhaps a little bit information to construct the background information of the story that let me slightly confused. The world building was, I felt, thrown at us as if we were expected to already know it. However, since this was so short, I’m expecting to get the opportunity to know more about the galaxies.

I admit being super curious about Valen and Nor. These two characters were really mysterious and there wasn’t that many information about them. And I admit that there was very little of Valen, I can see him as a potential favourite character of mine in this series.

I have to admit that even though I truly enjoyed this book, I also feel it was too short for me to be able to review it properly. It was a nice introduction to this saga I give you that, but trying to review just half of a story doesn’t actually feel right. Still, for a 62 pages book, it was actually good.

The writing was easy and had some beautiful sentences. The only negative point is what I already mentioned about the world building.

Overall, Zenith was a short and sweet debut for Sasha and a nice introduction to this new YA series. I will definitely be looking forward for the continuation of this saga and hopefully, as it builds up more plot, it’ll introduce us to a lot more kick-ass moments.

Ner

Review: The Faerie Guardian

NER REVIEWS (thefaerieguardian)

Author: Rachel Morgan
Release Date: Octoer 27th, 2012 (originally April 5th, 2012)
Publisher: Rachel Morgan
Pages: 298 (epub)
Format: epub
Genre:
 YA | Urban Fantasy | Fairies
Idiom: English
Series: Creepy Hollow #1
Read: from June 27 to May 1, 2016
Source & Shelf: Kindle App | Kindle
ISBN: 9780994667908
(Paperback)
Cups:
3,5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Enter a hidden world…

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamor follows her into the Fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the Fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive.

My Opinion

It’s is one of those books you had no expectations whatsoever but managed to actually surprised it. Though it has its flaws, I ended up enjoyed The Faerie Guardian more than what I anticipated. Which is always a great surprise to be honest. Who doesn’t like to be surprised by a book?

The Faerie Guardian is about Violet, a fairy who is training to become a guardian. During one of her assignment, she’s followed to Creepy Hollow, her forest, by a human boy. And that was one of the main and biggest rules in her world. But when she’s about to bring him back to his world, they end up being kidnapped and a lot more follows after that event that will make Violet realise that there is more about this human boy than she thought. Not to mention that she has a rare gift that is being haunted down for evil proposes.  

It’s an easy story to follow but it sure begins to get complicated as you read the book. What I thought was going to be the main plot, ends up being pushed aside to give another story the centre stage and I enjoyed that particular aspect of this book quite a lot.

Violet was a nice character to met. She’s funny, sarcastic and a kick-ass young girl with a determined goal set: to become a guardian. When she meets Nate, the human boy she was assigned to protect from a evil creature, she breaks the rules and pretty much jeopardises her chances at finishing her training first. And that was perhaps the only think about Violet I didn’t enjoy the most.

Well, to be honest, their relation was mainly what I didn’t like in the book. It was too sudden, too fast and quick. I mean, we all know that most of the time books have insta-romance but there are some I can’t really enjoy. Not because I don’t like the couple but because it was simply too sudden! There was no time for the characters to get to know each other properly. It’s a romance I can’t seem to connect with because the characters didn’t allowed me to see it grow and develop.

But there is another character in this book that might be a potential love-interest and that one clicked with me way more than Violet and Nate. But I won’t get into that because of spoilers! But this character I’m talking about allowed me to get to know him and his relationship with Violet didn’t feel too rushed. 

I really enjoyed the whole Creepy Hollow universe. I feel this world has great potential and the little we got to know made super excited about it. The author didn’t throw everything about this fantasy world at us expecting us to know it already. Instead she allowed the characters to introduce us to their environment.

The plot, in the beginning, felt slightly rushed as if the author was trying to get the action started without wasting time. But it was only part of it as a lot more ends up happening towards the end of the book. The first half of the action – mostly related to Nate – only helped the plot to reach another plot and they end up being connected. And Rachel Morgan‘s easy and effortless writing helped connect the dots and made an entertaining read

In the end, The Faerie Guardian was a really huge surprise. It was a fun, quick read with a main character that I enjoyed (at times!) and a fantasy world that has all the potential to be amazing. Really looking forward to read more in this series and see where the story goes.
Ner

Review: Relentless

NER REVIEWS (relentles)

Author(s): Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Superheroes | Sci-Fi
Idiom: English
Series: The Hero Agenda #2
Read: from June 20 to 27, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492616610
(Hardcover)
Cups:
3,5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Revenge is easy, but justice is worth fighting for…

Kenna is tired of being lied to—and hunted by the very allies she once trusted. Unearthing the dark secrets of the superhero world has not only endangered her life, now her boyfriend faces execution for crimes he didn’t commit and her mother is being held captive in a secret governmental prison.

Kenna is determined to stand up for what’s right and save those she loves from unspeakable fates. It’s time for the betrayal to end. It’s time for the real criminals to face justice.

But the truth is even more terrifying than Kenna could imagine. A conspiracy threatens the fate of heroes, villains, and all of humanity. If Kenna’s going to survive, she must draw on her deepest strength: her resilience. Because when Kenna’s pushed to the limit, she doesn’t break down. She fights back.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Relentless is the second book and conclusion to The Hero Agenda duology. And, if you remember my first review, I really enjoyed the concept of this superheroes vs. villains series. Powerless was, overall, a great introduction to a brand new YA series and I’m glad to see that Relentless was also good.

Well, it did dragged a little bit but it was a great sequel nevertheless!

In this book we continue following Kenna and her group of villains and superheroes in order to overthrow the bad guy. Not wanting to dwell too much in the plot since it’ll pretty much spoil the first book, let’s just say that this one centred more in wanting to stop someone from doing something despicable to the whole world and, in the meantime, to save someone. I know, it sounds like the plot of every single YA book but let’s not forget that this is a sequel.

The characters in this book changed somewhat since Powerless. Kenna suffers quite a lot in this book – no spoilers, I promise – and I admit feeling pretty bad for her. Right in the beginning of the book she has two twists and turns that affected her emotionally. But I admit that she managed to endure quite a lot throughout Relentless and her bravery was, at times reckless but a way for her to cope with what she had to do. Instead of whining about how much in pain she was, she channelled it into action in order to save the world.

And of course that being finding a few truths, she finds out a lot more about herself. And there was one particular part I really enjoyed and that I did not see coming at all. In a way it makes sense and was a huge step towards Kenna decision to stop someone from hurting peoples. And it made her even stronger than she previously was.

Rebel, a character I had no connection in the first book changed and I admit beginning to like her a little bit more in this one. But there is something in her that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes me not particularly like her though she’s a great friend. I think she’s just one of those characters you can’t really care for (it happens!).

Draven’s character was, in my opinion, the character that didn’t change that much. He was the same though his mind was perhaps affected by the events of the end of book one. His relationship with Kenna continued to be sweet and adorable and I know he was the rock that held her together.

I have to say this: I continue to FREAKING LOVE Nitro! And in this book we have a new character that opens up Nitro’s character a little bit more. Not only is he Scottish, a villain but his love interest was not who I had expected. And I loved it. I love really love to have a novella solemnly about Nitro!

Even though there was not a single moment in the book where the characters could take a deep breath without running for their lives, I found that there were moments were the plot dragged slightly. Not as in nothing happening but as in Kenna’s inner struggles in dealing what was happening too repetitive and tiring! That is one of her major flaws: she repeats herself a lot! She has a thought in a chapter and in the next one she repeats it.

I found this plot engaging and truly action-paced. And I remember mentioning on my first review that I loved the fact that these characters failed at their attempts and I was glad to see it continued in Relentless. They are not the bunch of people that have a plan and can make it work with no problems whatsoever. They fail and it shows they have flaws and there’s nothing better than reading about flawed characters! It makes them human in a super world.

Relentless had a lot of twists and turns that I was not expecting (a few minor ones that were predictable though). From the plot to characters to actions, I was hooked and eager to read more and more.

This book was the conclusion of Kenna’s story but the authors certainly let the door open in the end. They didn’t disregard the possibility of more books set in this world and I like the idea of visiting this universe in the future (though I still want a book about Nitro first!). And their writing was so easy to read, Kenna’s voice sarcastic when needed to be and hilarious at the same time.

Relentless was an amazing book despite its flaws (dragging, a few things concerning secondary characters being perhaps too predictive). It had action, science-fiction, superheroes and villains, good vs. evil, friendship and romance and much more. The Hero Agenda was a great duology by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs and it’s the sort of book I could easily see as a TV-series. Definitely a series I enjoy and will continue reading if the authors release more stuff!
Ner

Review: Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes

Author: Keira Gillett
Illustrator: Eoghan Kerrigan
Release Date: July 1st, 2016
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Pages: 300 (Kindle)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Magic
Idiom: English
Series: Zaria Fierce #3
Read: from May 29 to June 2, 2016
Source & Shelf: Author | Kobo
ISBN: 9781942750048 
(ebooks)
Cups:
45 Cups
GoodreadsAmazon

Synopsis

“Nothing can save you now, Princess.”

How can anyone be tricked twice? Isn’t there even a saying about that? Zaria Fierce is determined to get things right this time and with the Drakeland Sword in her possession she’s ready to take on trolls, dragons, and whatever else may come… but first she and her friends are going to have to figure out just how much trouble they’re in at home.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you Keira Gillett for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes is the third (and possibly the last) book in the adventure series Zaria Fierce. This is a series I have been following since I was first contacted by the author, Keira Gillett, last year and I am so happy I accepted Keira‘s request to be part of this wonderful journey. I adored every single minute of this adventure and I’m looking forward for more books from this author.

This book happens immediately after the events of the second book – Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword – where Zaria unfortunately was tricked into freeing Koll using the Drakeland Sword. With the help of her friends and Hector, the Stag Lord, they venture into various realms in order to finally rescue Hart. And after they accomplish that, they have to get Queen Helena’s shoes so they can travel to the Under Realm to finally defeat Koll and his brothers.

One of the most important themes in Keira‘s books is friendship and I always marvel at how beautiful she describes Zaria and her group of friends. They always support each other and are always there for whatever comes their way and never once falter to protect the other. They develop in such a slow and fluid way you basically see these characters grow since book one and see their friendship becoming tighter. And Zaria was perhaps the one that grew up the most since the first book. After learning the truth about her birth parents, realising how important her role is in saving the world, she could just turn her backs and leave – or letting it all go to her head – but she stays and fights till the end though not without doubting herself. She’s brave and courageous and I will miss her. Well, I will miss all of them to be honest.

In the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes we finally met Hart – later known by a different name but I won’t spoil it for you. And, I have to admit this, when I read his description I couldn’t help but picturing the Beast after his transformation in Beauty and the Beast but in a much younger version. He’s a character that I would really love to know more, to have more adventures with him. He seemed to be as wise as his father and I wish to see his friendship with Zaria grow and develop… maybe into something more? Who knows 😉

As always, I’m completely mesmerised by how much the Norwegian folklore is present in these books. There were a few new “beasts” such as the banshees and the mares (which scared the living hell out of me to be honest) but the same old creatures made a cameo. We had the trolls, witches, the dwarves, the ellefolken, dragons, the lot. The fantasy in these books is strong and so beautifully explore and described I almost felt like I could wander through Norway and stumble upon these eerie creatures and realms.

Keira‘s writing is always fluid and easy to read and, even though I’m repeating myself it’s always worth mentioning, you can see how much she has developed as a writer since The Secret of Gloomwood Forest. The way she describes the characters, the setting, the fantastic creatures makes everything seem real. Not to mention how she approaches not only the Norwegian folklore part of the book with such a dedication, but other themes such as friendship, bravery, family and believing in yourself.

The illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan are stunning as I keep mentioning. There was one particular illustration I adored above all else. Alongside Keira, he made this wonderful universe come to life and gave them a real aspect. I think that this book would be incomplete without his touch in it.

Overall, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes was a spectacular conclusion to a great trilogy (though that ending left the door open for more adventures). Filled with magic, a great story line, amazing and real characters, wonderful settings and beautifully explored themes, Keira Gillett created a trilogy that I will always cherish and will visit anytime. If you like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Spiderwick Chronicles or simply love a book filled with Norwegian folklore and fantasy, then this is the ultimate series for you to read, devour and lost yourselves in.

Thank you Keira once again for allowing me to be part of this adventure. Bring the next one 🙂
Ner

Review: The King Slayer

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Author: Virginia Boecker
Release Date: June 14th, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
Format: Ppaperback
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: The Witch Hunter #2
Read: from June 16 to 20, 2016
Source & Shelf: Sent by Author | Own
ISBN: 9780316327237
(Hardcover)
Cups:
5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

“I think, in time, you’ll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory.”

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He’s readying for a war against those who would resist his rule—namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth’s strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she’ll go to save those she loves.

My Opinion

*This review might contain spoilers*

Disclaimer: I won this book on a giveaway hosted by the author herself, Virginia Boecker. Thank you for providing me with a copy of this book.

The King Slayer is the sequel to The Witch Hunter, one of my favourite books from 2015. I loved the first book, so my expectations for the second book were slightly higher than usual. And let me tell you, it surpassed all expectations!

In this book we continue Elizabeth’s story as an old with hunter whose life was turned upside down after being accused of witchcraft. By helping the most wanted wizard in the kingdom and by finding out her role in all of it, Elizabeth begins to understand that nothing is exactly as it seems. In The King Slayer, after the events of the first book, she’s faced with some serious decisions that might kill her or those she cares about.

One of the things I loved about this book was how many of the small details from the first book play a major role in this one. And some characters that are only mentioned, happen to be important to the future of the kingdom.

I thought that Elizabeth’s character developed in such a slow and amazing pace. In the first book she’s thrown into a conspiracy that was against pretty much everything she believed in. In this one, after everything that happened, she’s careful to analyse people and consequences, always putting the others first and trying her best to save her friends. Though at times she was slightly reckless and perhaps a little bit too blind, I loved how human, brave and courageous she was.

John’s character broke my heart at times throughout the book. The fact that he’s carrying Elizabeth’s stigma (what used to heal her when she was a witch hunter), the fact that its magic is in conflict with John’s healing abilities, makes him a completely different person, someone who doesn’t care about anything else but end Blackwell’s reign. And it was terrifying how much he had to battle against it and pretty much on his own. The way he treated Elizabeth was so heartbreaking I felt sorry for her.

I missed George in this book. If you guys remember my review for The Witch Hunter, I mentioned that I loved his character, that he was my favourite in the book. And I was hoping to have more of him, to have his comic-relief in Th King Slayer but unfortunately his role played a role outside the kingdom and he only appeared right at the end. And I missed him so much! I’m hoping to have a novella solemnly dedicated to him because he is one of the best characters in this amazing universe.

There were two twists in this book that had me stop reading and basically stare at the book not believing what I was reading. Actually, there was one particular twist that I had theorised about but never thought would actually happen. And when it did, I did not see that result coming.

Virginia Boecker‘s writing is always effortless and so easy to read, her description of Elizabeth’s feelings and thoughts so well crafted you feel such a strong connect to each and every single character.

A few twists and turns made me gasp and hooked in the book since page one, such as the first book did. The action had me on the edge of my sit and the whole plot developed slowly and at the right pace.

Overall, The King Slayer was an amazing sequel and an awesome book. Filled with action, characters that I have a connection with and love dearly, magic, fantasy, romance and friendship. This is the sort of book I love to read, that has everything I love and will always cherish and treasure. 
Ner

Review: City of Bones/ City of Ashes/ City of Glass

Author: Cassandra Clare
Release Date: February 19th, 2008
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 485 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 YA | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal
Idiom: English
Series: The Mortal Instruments #1
Read: from April 2016
Source & Shelf: Bought | Own
ISBN: 9781416955078
(Paperback)
Cups:
5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder commited by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons–and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

My Opinion

This was the third time I read this book and whenever I pick it up, it simply gets better! I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to contribute with anything new to this review but I decided to try nevertheless.

One of the reasons I have decided to pick up this book again and challenged myself to read both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices this year has to do with the TV-show Shadowhunters. Now, I know the series is completely different from the books and it’s a bit cliche and the acting isn’t the best but the main reasons I stuck to it was Malec and Simon. Yes, I continued watching the series because of Alec Lightwood, Magnus Bane and Simon Lewis! For me, these were reasons that made the show at least bearable for me.

So, because I was literally falling in love with Malec relationship in the series and was loving Simon as a vampire, I have decided to pick up the series and read their story. So, yes, I re-started reading the series because, and solemnly because, of them.

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to resume the story of City of Bones. We all know it’s about Clary who is literally thrown into this new world were demons, vampires, angels and whatnot are real. And then she finds out she’s a Shadowhunter and everything is turned upside-down and her life simply changes.

One of the things I really enjoy about these books is Cassandra Clare‘s writing. It’s super effortless and fast-pace. You start reading her books and you’re immediately hooked not only by the story but also by her writing. The story is gripping and the characters manage to add their own touch to it. Though City of Bones is mainly told through Clary’s perspective, you can definitely see yourself as part of the adventure. I don’t know about you but the moment I finished this book, I was immediately connected to these character as if I knew them all my life. They are so well created, and later on developed I can’t really say they are only characters but, in my mind, they are so real I could pretty much call on Alec and have him roll his eyes on me.

The whole Shadow World was also so well created. In City of Bones you pretty much have only a glimpse of how deep this supernatural world is.

City of Bones is the first gripping and exhilarating ride in The Mortal Instruments series. Cassandra Clare sure did created an amazing first book in what I’m hoping to be an awesome series.

Looking forward to finish this series. 

  • Author: Cassandra Clare
    Release Date: July 7th, 2008 (originally March 28th, 2008)
    Publisher: Walker Children’s Paperbacks
    Pages: 4115 (Paperback)
    Format: Paperback
    Genre:
     YA | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal
    Idiom: English
    Series: The Mortal Instruments #2
    Read: from April 27 to May 16, 2016
    Source & Shelf: Bought | Own
    ISBN: 9781406307634
    (Paperback)
    Cups:
    4 Cups
    GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

My Opinion

City of Ashes is the second book in The Mortal Instruments series and I really enjoyed continuing this series and learning more about Valentine’s plans and see some of the secondary characters play a bigger role this time.

One of the things I found that this book had and I didn’t quite enjoyed it was Clary’s and Simon’s relationship. It was obvious that Clary only cared about Simon as a friend and found her sudden interested in him quite far-stretched. Like, it was a way for her to forget about Jace and what she felt about him.

The fact that you also get a glimpse of what lies further in the Shadow World helped me establish a strong connection to characters who only appear briefly in this book. Also, the hint at something more about Jace and Clary, their power and who they are was brilliant introduced.

Simon’s transformation into a vampire was the highest moment for me in the book. As I mentioned on my City of Bones mini-review, he was one of the reasons I decided to pick up the series and he surely doesn’t disappoint. He starts playing a major role in the series and not only as Clary’s best-friend but this time as a Downworlder.

The action was on point, leaving me on the edge of my sit. City of Ashes was a wonderful sequel to City of Bones.

Now bring me book three!

Author: Cassandra Clare
Release Date: July 6th, 2009 (originally March 24th, 2009)
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 508 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 YA | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal
Idiom: English
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Read: from June 3 to 10, 2016
Source & Shelf: Bought | Own
ISBN: 9781406307641
(Paperback)
Cups:
5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

My Opinion

Now I understand why this seems to be everyone’s favourite book in the series. Now I picked it up and read the whole action in Idris, I also have to admit this being my favourite in The Mortal Instruments!

First, the fact that we get to know the Shadowhunters famous Glass City was amazing. We trade the same old city of New York for a beautiful city filled with glass towers, what seem to be old houses (like Victorian sort of houses) and endless historical places in Alicante. I loved the descriptions of every single one of the places we encounter in this book.

Second, we finally get some answers! Freaking finally! Pretty much everything we needed to know is explained and answered in this book. And the most important question of all; are Clary and Jace really siblings?  

Then, we get to know more and more characters. Luke’s sister, Aline, the new Inquisitor, the Consul, Sebastian! A bunch of new characters to add more spice to the plot.

Ans speaking of it, Sebastian!! I try to stay away from spoilers but of course I knew that Sebastian was a very important character in this book. And, let me tell you, I hated him with all my guts! As soon as I met him I immediately disliked him! And then finding out his real identity, who he really is and what… I admit some of the things I found out about him I did not see coming. Though the most important of all I did see 😉

There were two deaths in this book that broke my heart! Yes, even the first one! I knew about the second because the Internet is filled with spoilers and even though you try not to read them, you always end up being spoiled unintentionally. But the first one was unexpected! I had hopes that that character would redeem himself or something… never that he would die like that! As for the second one… WHY?!

Clary and Jace kind of annoy me sometimes in this book. I know their feelings are a mess and they have no idea what to do but their constant struggle, their constant whining about it sometimes tired me. And Jace was a bit of a pain-in-the-ass at times. 

Of course that in this book we have the moment we all have been waiting for. At least I was! MALEC!!! I wish there were more scenes with Alec and Magnus but the ones I had were so freaking adorable and beautiful and my OTP is the best!

This book was super action paced, there were almost no time to take a deep breath before something happened. Every bit of discovery is relevant to the plot and everything single character plays a role in the action.

Not wanting to dwell too much on this review because there’s still three more books in the series and a lot more will definitely happen, City of Glass was the best so far in the series. I couldn’t put it down because whenever I did, I wanted to jump back into the story and see what was going to happen.

This is definitely a series to read if you like urban fantasy. It has romance, supernatural creatures, friendship, and much more. I’m so glad I’ve decided to finally read this series. I do not regret this decision!
Ner

Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

NER REVIEWS (tellthewindandfire)

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 360 (Hardcover)
Format: epub
Genre:
 YA | Urban Fantasy | Magic
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from May 14 to 29, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780544318175
(Hardcover)
Cups:
1,5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to really like this book, I really but really wanted to but unfortunately it didn’t conquer me the way I had expected it to. When I first read the synopsis I was immediately drawn to this story and since I have never read any book by Sarah Rees Brennan and everyone seemed to love her books, I was super excited to finally be able to read it. But, as I mentioned, it was one of those books you simply couldn’t enjoy despite it all.

Tell the Wind and Fire is a sort of retelling. Sarah Rees Brennan picked up Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities‘ and created a brand new urban fantasy story set in modern New York city. But with a twist; the city is divided between Light and Dark magic. And that was exactly what made me want to pick up the book. But the world building and the magic felt complex and so intricate I couldn’t actually grasp its concept. I was rather confused by what made a person use Dark or Light magic and how it all really worked. And I also think that the fact that this book was set in modern time also didn’t help. I think I could have appreciated it more if it was set in a different time period.

However, there was one particular thing about the Dark magic that was actually really interesting and one of the reasons I managed to continue reading this book. The doppelgängers, magically created twins of Light people. A person uses a Dark magician power in order to create a doppelgänger to save some else’s life. And the whole idea of having Dark twins was rather exciting.

The story is about Lucie, the Golden Thread in the Dark, a Dark inhabitant who managed to move to the Light part of the city after rebelling against her father’s imprisonment. She’s dating one of the Light Council member’s son, Ethan, and she’s a sort of celebrity. Together, Lucie and Ethan are a powerful couple. Until one night Ethan is accused of selling information to the sans-merci, a band of radicals, and they find out that Ethan has a doppelgänger named Carywn.  

The characters, especially Lucie, felt flat and I couldn’t connect  with her. She sounded to repetitive at times and a little bit contradictory. Her relationship with Ethan was perhaps too perfect and I didn’t actually felt their chemistry. And when Carywn appeared in her life, even though she never once faltered in her feelings towards Ethan (and that as one positive point about her), I couldn’t really care about her.

Ethan was perhaps one of the few characters I could feel something towards. But, just like Lucie, he felt flat and too innocent. As for Carywn, I did liked him at first when he saved Ethan. He was quite the opposite of Ethan, much darker and mysterious. I really like what he did in the end of the book though. He was the most developed character in the book for me, at least as a character that you could see some kind of growth. 

This book had some amazing quotes. I kept highlighting sentence after sentence. Even though the book is told by Lucie, there were moments when she managed to surprise me with her point-of-views. Sarah Rees Brennan surely knows how to add a few quotes that makes us think about stuff or simply stop and say “wow, that was beautiful and deep!”. Here are a few examples:

“When you are broken and someone puts you back together, there isn’t any way to repay that.”

“This was death triumphant, walking among the living.”

“Love was the mystery nobody could solve, the fairy tale everyone loved to listen and not quite believe in.”

“Trying to make a difference meant that you risked doing harm.”

I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities and despite the fact that this book didn’t convince me, I am now curious to see how Sarah Rees Brennan picked up the original tale and transformed it into this book.

Overall, Tell the Wind and Fire wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t one of my favourite. The political aspects of the book were well written and explored but the lack of proper characters and their flatness, plus the complexity of the magic surrounding this book just didn’t add up to make this a good reading. But I will definitely give Sarah Rees Brennan another shot… just because I didn’t like one of her books doesn’t mean I’m giving up on her completely. And since she’s a loved author, she deserves another chance. But Tell the Wind and Fire wasn’t exactly my cup of coffee (see what I did here?!)
Ner

Review: The Inquisition

Author: Taran Matharu
Release Date: May 5th, 2016
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Magic
Idiom: English
Series: Summoner #2
Read: from April 12 to 18, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781250076311
(Hardcover)
Cups:
5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

More demons, epic battles, and fights to the death: introducing the unmissable next installment in the Summoner Trilogy…

On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future – the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher’s tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there’s a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Taran Matharu for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

THIS BOOK! Seriously guys… THIS BOOK WAS SO FREAKING AMAZING!!! 

Side note: I knew when I read The Novice that we would expect great things from Taran Matharu! And I was right!!! 

Just like The Novice, I’m pretty sure The Inquisition will be yet another favourite from Taran Matharu. This series just keeps getting better and better! 

Okay, now for a coherent review instead of me rambling about how awesome this was. Because, trust me, it was THAT awesome!

The Inquisition is the second book in the Summoner series and it’s set one year after the events of The Novice. We continue following Fletcher’s journey with his adorable and cute demon Ignatius as they try to save Hominum.

The book begins with Fletcher facing the consequences of what happened during book one. I loved how Taran Matharu used the beginning of The Inquisition and Fletcher’s trial to remind us of what happened during The Novice. It was so clever and so well planned. Just brilliant!

Not wanting to spill the beans about the book because of spoilers, I’m going to resume by saying that stuff happened and Fletcher and his friends have to travel to enemy territory in order to complete a mission.

And, oh boy, that’s when the book begins to get so but so good! So freaking good! From halfway through till the end of the book I was so engrossed in the story I actually sweated in fear of what was going to happen. I kid you not!

We also get to know more about Fletcher’s past and who his parents really were. We are slowly beginning to understand more about his roots and his identity and it made Fletcher’s character develop ans grow in such a nice way. Because, trust me, all the characters in this book grew up so much and were very well developed. You can clearly see how they are the same but their perspective of life changed with their mission.

This mission really make them use their skills and magic and having the opportunity to read/see it in action was amazing. You can notice how well crafted and executed everything was.  

Some new characters, demons and magic are introduced. Cress was an amazing dwarf and she brought a brand new comic relief equal to Othello but in a different tone. The chance to get deeper into the dwarven and elven world was really well thought. I loved getting the opportunity to see and get to know more elves than Sylva.

As for the demons, I fell in love with Athena (I’m not going to tell you to whom she belongs to) and I kept picturing an hybrid Hedwig in my mind whenever I read about her.

Also, a shout out for Atilla’s demon! I cannot wait for fan edits and art to appear of his demon. Because from Taran Matharu‘s description, the demon is simply breathtaking.

There was a small twist at the end that I only saw coming towards the great reveal. And another one right at the end of the book, before the cliffhanger, that made me gasp in total surprised. Did not see that one coming AT ALL

Taran Matharu‘s writing continued to amaze me. I cannot explain to you how effortless and beautiful his writing his. It’s so easy for you to dive into his writing and simply get lost in this universe he created. And though a few elements of his fantasy kind of reminds you of others, just his writing makes it feel rather unique. I will repeat myself by saying I could read his writing without ever getting tired of it.

Overall, this was an amazing fantasy series that I cannot recommend enough to all of you. Filled with adventure, amazing characters, a beautiful writing and a story that hooks you straight away, The Inquisition manages to be even better than its already awesome predecessor The Novice. It delivers everything you wished for when you started reading the series and much, much more. A perfect blend for fans of The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Eragon. A simply astounding sequel. 

I can’t wait to see what Taran Matharu is going to deliver with the third book but I can already guess it’ll be such as good.

I also want to thank Taran for contacting me so I could get an e-arc of the book. That means a lot to mean. So; THANK YOU!


Ner

Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

NER REVIEWS (cupcakestrinketsdeadlymagic)

Author: Meghan Ciana Doidge
Release Date: June 21st, 2013
Publisher: Old Man in the CrossWalk Productions
Pages: 232 (epub)
Format: epub
Genre:
 NA | Urban Fantasy | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: Dowser Series #1
Read: from March 17 to 29, 2016
Source & Shelf: Kindle App | Kindle
ISBN: 9781927850008
(Paperback)
Cups:
3,5 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept — was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful. Just the way I liked it.

That’s what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality. Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That’s a universal truth.

My Opinion

Cupcakes, Trinkets, And Other Deadly Magic was a rather easy, fast and entertaining read that really helped me get out of a reading-slump. It’s a sort of guilty pleasure to read a urban fantasy book with witches and vampires and werewolves and sometimes that’s all you need to help you ease your mind. But add cupcakes to it and it makes it even the more interesting.

This story follows Jade in her normal routine as a baker on her own cupcake store and how her magic is to sense others magic. But all changes when a vampire comes knocking on her life and a series of murders will make her know the truth about a lot of things in her life. Things are not exactly what they seem and she has to face it blindly.

I was immediately drawn to Jade. She was an extremely funny character to read about and to meet. I dare say she was the main reason I liked this story so much. There was so much I could relate myself to her and so much more I wish to know. I felt like I was reading the story of a friend instead of a fictional character.

The main plot was easy enough to read a follow and it hooked you right away. You have magic and all the supernatural apparatus and it all makes the story far more interesting than you’d initially think. Also, the way Meghan Ciana Doidge inserts small bits of descriptions by using food, in this case chocolate all that makes a cupcake tasty, was extremely clever.   

Even though the story was fun and interesting, it was also slightly predictable. Before the real murderer was announce I already knew who it was so it wasn’t that big of a surprise. Though now I am curious to see how the story is going to evolve.

Still, predictable or not, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic was a great read and the sort of book that will make you enter a brand new world and get lost within it.
Ner