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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2)

Release Date: February 14, 2017
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 432 pages
Source: eGalley via Edelweiss

An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

    

Review:

Characters: The way this story starts out is interesting. At first, we get a glimpse into the mind of our main villain, Alistair Teague. We see him approach young Theo Glavan, in his most desperate of moments and we see how he gets Theo to agree to the terms that he sets, it's all very compelling. (Especially of you imagine being read in a sinister voice, not just Teague's dialogue, but the exposition as well) We see Teague as this jaded fae, untrusting of humans, believing them to all be selfish at heart. It's a prologue that draws you into this story and more specifically into a curiosity of who Teague was in the past and what happened to make him so cruel and power hungry. Then the actual story starts. We meet Ari, now officially a princess of Súndraille, yet defying nearly every convention of what a princess should be. She's not demure, she will eat what she wants when she wants, and if you get on her bad side, heaven help you. Through the story, we discover just how far she'll go to protect those she cares about and just how much strength she has to see her friends, her family, and her country safe from Teague. Then there's Sebastian. Sebastian is that type of broken character that you just want to hug and reassure that everything will be alright. He has a surprising connection to Teague's criminal empire, though despises the fae and everything he stands for. His journey is much more internal. Like I said he's a bit broken, he suffers from PTSD due to an abusive childhood and has anxiety issues that resonated very strongly with me. I love how Redwine writes such in-depth characters and even gives you a glimpse into the villain to learn about and understand them as the story goes along.

Romance: Since Ari grew up a bastard princess she was never treated as a member of the nobility, because of that she treats everyone the way they deserve to be treated, not the way others of her now higher station treat them. After searching out Sebastian, her brother's new weapons master, in hopes he can help her with her brother's Wish Granter problem, they form an unlikely friendship, mainly due to Ari's relentless pursuit of a friendship with the young weapons master. As they grow closer as friends, it's obvious there's something more there. The romance unfolds at a great even pace. The characters fit so well together, and I never felt like the author was forcing things to go too fast or running toward an end goal with them, but rather chronicling their romance as it would naturally happen. This, of course, led me to root for the couple through all their trials and tribulations, mostly external as there actually wasn't a lot of romantic drama between the two, and made me feel that it's almost serendipitous that this book comes out of Valentine's Day.

World Building: After reading The Shadow Queen, I was itching to get back into this world, and while we only have one little cameo from previously seen characters, I ended up loving this book more than the first. In this book we visit the kingdom of Súndraille and follow a story inspired by the classic fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin, I say inspired by and not based off of or a retelling of because while it does involve a wish granting fae entrapping someone into a deal that's nearly impossible to break, this wasn't a retelling. It's its own story that merely shares similar themes to the fairy tale. I wasn't bothered that this wasn't really a retelling as the story is so compelling I couldn't put it down. In this book, we learn more about the fae who reside in Llorenyae and each bit of info we get makes me more and more excited for a possible book taking place in that kingdom. It follows pretty standard fae lore, Winter and Summer Kingdoms, magical folk, etc. all of which is so enthralling. We do see a bit of another fairy tale in this one, I won't say how, but I was sort of giddy, for no real reason, when it's brought up, but it just speaks to this incredible fairy-tale inspired world the author has created.

Predictability: Since the last tale in this companion novel trilogy followed out heroes as they traversed across the kingdom of Ravenspire, I was interested to see if our new heroes would also set out of a kingdom trekking journey, however, it became obvious very early on that this story all takes place inside of the capital city of Súndraille. Because of that, the pacing of the book is a bit different, focusing more on the knowledge needed to defeat their enemy than the magical strength required to oppose them. As the story moves on things begin to pop up, bits of information that over time begin to tie together. While there were a few twists to the story that I saw coming, due to the different pacing my guards were down and most of the time that a twist was coming up, all I really had to go on was the feeling that something was brewing, but never really being able to pinpoint what. This led to a lot of great tension filled moments that left me nearly breathless as I scanned the pages (screen?) to find out what happened next and how this twist would play into the story. It was exhilarating.

Ending: Does anybody else notice that the closer you get to the end of a book, the faster you read or is that just me? As the ending of this book commenced I was glued to the words I was reading. The final climax of this book was phenomenal as things didn't quite go the way I expected and watching our heroes face their final trials against the fae crime lord left me speechless most of the time. Since this is a standalone companion novel everything wraps up rather neatly, for better or worse, and every second I got closer to the end, the more I realized I never wanted it to end. However, I am pleased with the closure this story has, and am torn because, on the one hand, I love this story, but on the other, the wait for the next adventure in this world is going to eat away at me day by day, I just know it.

Rating:


Given the glowing review I gave this book, it should come as no surprise that I gave this book five stars. I love this book even more than the first. The world building is immaculate, the characters are enchanting, and the romance is to die for!

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Collide by Michelle Madow (WOW #24)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that everyone’s excited about!


I should have died when I was shot at the Halloween dance. 

Instead, I woke up—one week earlier, in a parallel universe where my mom's fatal car accident six months ago never happened. 

A world with my mom still in it was all I ever wanted. But in this timeline, everything is different—my grades, my friends, and even my boyfriend. I'm a stranger in my own body, and I don’t like who I’ve become. 

But one thing is the same—that shooting will still happen at the end of the week. 

I'm the only one who knows. Which means I'm the only one who can stop it. 

But first I need to convince someone—anyone—that I’m telling the truth... and then get them to help me. 



Collide releases on February 9, 2017, from Dreamscape Publishing

Ooooooh, you guys this sounds good. Okay, so Madow's books in the past for me have been kind of hit or miss, granted they were mostly hits, and I am a tad hesitant about this one, but it does sound really interesting and the cover is just visually stunning. Plus I'm a sucker for time-travel/alternate universe fiction!

So, what are you waiting for this Wednesday?


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3)

Release Date: August 30, 2016
Authors: Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Scholastic
Length: 256 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.

    

Review:

Protagonist: After spending the entire summer with his best friend, Aaron, and getting an award for the destruction of The Enemy of Death, Callum Hunt is really happy with his life. He's even hoping to have a normal year at the Magisterium, that is until an attempt is made on his life and a fellow student winds up dead. Now, Call, Aaron, and Tamara want nothing more than to discover the spy hidden in the Magisterium, and if all goes to plan, do so without breaking too many rules. Call's character development in this story, at least in regards to the main plot, is done very well. There's a huge theme of personal responsibility, and knowing that your actions have consequences, some good and some that could cause irreparable harm. Over the story, Call sort of lets this lesson sink in and there are some parallels with Constantine and Call and their own personal journeys, and the responsibility they each had in their lives.

Romance: Ugh. Seriously I kind of just want to leave it at that comment and move on, but I also feel the need to elaborate more. So, if this series never had romance in it I would have been fine. If the authors had taken the time to really grow and develop a romance between two characters, even if one of them wasn't Call, that would have been fine as well. However, the romance, if you even want to call it that, in this series is a mess. It's like there's this weird love triangle with Celia, Call, and Jasper, and then there may or may not be romantic things going on between Call's apprentice group, but it's all done in a very vague way which leaves me just wanting Call and Aaron together because they make more sense than any other romance in this series, and they honestly don't even make that much sense.

World-Building: There's something dark brewing within the Magisterium and it's after Callum. As our characters go through their Bronze Year at the Magisterium, Master Rufus informs them that they are not to put a toe out of line and they are to devote themselves to their studies. Over the course of the book, we learn more about magic, specifically chaos magic, as Call and Aaron are both Makaris. We see more Elementals and meet up with characters we haven't seen since the first book and catching up with characters we saw in the previous installment. Honestly, though, I'm not quite sure what to put here. I mean, there is a great deal of world building, specifically, characterwise, we learn about so many characters, their backstories and their motivations. However, there isn't all that much more to the world that we get to see, we find out where all the big Elementals are being held, and that scene specifically was very fun, and we finally see the Collegium, but overall, we more get a greater sense of the world as a whole and specifically certain characters' roles within it.

Predictability: I'm going to be honest with you, I read the last line of the book before I got there. This happens sometimes when I try to see how many pages a book has (I really should have just looked it up on GR) and my eyes curiously wander. That being said, while I had a vague idea of what was coming, I was in no way prepared for what happens in this book. I'm still trying to get over the events of this book. Granted, I did just finish it, but there's a lot that happens. Now, going into this book, and even up until nearly the final climax I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen. There were a few twists that this story had already that caught me off guard, but that was nothing compared to the twisted ending this book has.

Ending: Like I said above, this ending is seriously twisty. As we get to the final climax of the story, things start to come together and make sense, however, then the final climax hits and I wasn't quite sure where things were going to go. Things happened in that climax that I don't want to talk about, mainly because of spoilers, and this all leads to the most confusing, yet interesting, cliffhanger of all time. Honestly, I don't know where this story is going to go next, and I don't care, all I care about is getting that next book in my hands and finding out.

Rating:


Literally, the only reason this book is getting four stars and not five is because of the romance. I'm sure by the end of the series it will all come together, but until then it's currently a mess and it detracts from the amazingness that is this story.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Novella Review: The Witch Must Burn (Dorothy Must Die #0.2)

Release Date: November 11, 2014
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 100 pages
Source: Library Audiobook

There’s a new Wicked Witch in Oz—and her name is Dorothy. This digital original novella is the second installment in the prequel arc to the edgy and exciting New York Times bestseller Dorothy Must Die.

Dorothy Gale is back . . . and she’s not the sweet little heroine of Oz anymore. She’s power-hungry and vicious, and she leaves a trail of destruction beneath her spike-heeled, magical shoes. But behind the scenes, there’s someone else pulling the strings. Someone who doesn’t want fame or glory—just control.

Glinda of the North brought Dorothy back to Oz for a reason. And in The Witch Must Burn, a young maid is about to discover that a witch who says she’s Good might be the most dangerous kind of Wicked.

The Witch Must Burn, by debut author Danielle Paige, is a dark and compelling reimagining of a beloved classic and is perfect for fans of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Jellia, Dorothy's head maid, doesn't like that Dorothy barged her way into the Emerald City and deposed Ozma as the rightful ruler of Oz. Technically, for all intents and purposes, Ozma was still the ruler but she hadn't been the same Ozma Jellia had known for a long time. After a chance meeting with the "Good" witch of the South, Glinda, Jellia finds her services loaned to Glinda for the summer. As she stays in Glinda's palace she meets strange characters and learns that while Dorothy may be the figurehead, Glinda's the one with all the real power. With Glinda conducting dangerous experiments, Jellia needs to find a way back to the Emerald City before it's too late. It's interesting, seeing as I just reread No Place Like Oz, where Dorothy was the sympathetic narrator turned bratty tyrant, to read a story in this prequel arc from someone very levelheaded. While Jellia does have a great deal of character development and the character she is in the beginning, isn't the character she is in the end, her development makes her a stronger force for the good of Oz and in many ways mirrors the journey Amy takes in the first full installment of this series.

World Building: In this story, there's a lot that we learn, and depending on when you read this novella, there will be different amounts of world building. Personally. I read it after reading the first full installment in this series, Dorothy Must Die, and while there were definitely things I knew or at the very least could infer from reading that installment, there was still a great deal to figure out in this story. Since this story focuses on Jellia, we learn so much more about her than we do in DMD, and one of the great parts about it is that there are things that we learn about her that, at the beginning of the book, she doesn't even know. Then there's Glinda, while we don't really learn about her past from this story, we do get to understand her character better. We saw her as a maternal figure to Dorothy in No Place Like Oz, and other than being a warden to the munchkins mining for magic in DMD, I don't think we saw her much at all, in this story we get to see just how ambitious and power hungry she can be. I haven't continued the main series, so I'll be interested to see just where she falls in the final hierarchy of villains. We do see, or meet depending on how you read this series, familiar characters from the main series and while nothing is really expanded upon them, I did enjoy how they mixed into the overall story and Jellia's journey.

Predictability: Since this is such a short adventure, there aren't a whole bunch of twists and turns, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were moments that truly caught me off guard. There were quite a few times actually that I let my mind and imagination go wild and came up with the craziest theories to try and figure out how this story might end while not retconning the series canon. It's not as though there weren't things I didn't see coming, in fact, I had a good idea where things might end up, but it was the journey to getting there that truly added a level of unpredictability to this story.

Ending: This story doesn't have a traditional final climax like most YA tales, even novellas, have, however, this story does have a fantastic ending. I'm not going to give anything away, but there are some fantastic moments at the end of this story that almost had me on the edge of my seat, well they would if I was sitting down, but still the sentiment holds. After what I would call the final climax there's still some things that need to be taken care of before the ending and when this story does end, what I liked is that it felt like an actual ending, there's no cliffhanger, and yet still you want to know what's going to happen next.

Rating:


I actually debated with this rating for a bit, which normally means I wouldn't give a story five stars if I have to think about it, but this story was really well built. It had a fantastic narrator, intriguing premise, fantastic world building, and an end that stayed true to the function of this novella, a small part of a larger prequel.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: RoseBlood

Release Date: January 10, 2017
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Length: 432 pages
Source: Gifted ARC

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Rune Germain is possessed by music. As a child, she loved to sing with her father as he played the violin, but since his death, the music has drained her after every performance. Her mother wants her to cultivate her talent, but Rune just wants to be free of the compulsion to sing nearly every female sung aria she hears. When her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a French arts conservatory, Rune is afraid to get close to the people, but there's someone watching Rune, someone who can help her overcome her possession and master the music, but this person has a dark past and a connection to the infamous Phantom, who has his own plans for Rune. On the whole, I really liked Rune. She's a mostly flawed and broken character who has the best of intentions. Over the course of the story we see her come out of her shell and grow both in her talent, and also in her self-confidence and social skills. One of the things I really enjoyed about Rune's character development was how she discovers parts of herself alongside the reader helping to really bond her and the reader together.

Romance: This, the romance, is the only real downside of this story for me. The things that truly sucks, though, is that I really like both Rune and her love interest, Thorn, and in fact, even though it took me a while, I really like them together. The part of this romance that I absolutely despise, is the circumstances that lead to their romances, particularly the tropes associated with it that I either hate, have become bored with, or I felt weren't utilized correctly. There's a lot of telling when it comes to the romance and while there is some showing it's few and far between. I felt like the author was hinging everything on a soul mate storyline for the two, and so there was a lot of reiteration that they are soulmates and they have this incredible unbreakable bond without every really backing that up with seen evidence. Like I said, I did get around to rooting for this couple and whenever the narration would go on and on about how destined the two lovers are I'd start to skim, but still the romance could have been handled a lot better.

World Building: I've never read or seen The Phantom of the Opera. I know it's iconic and, going into this retelling/spin-off/continuation, I had a basic idea of the premise, but because of how much this story is steeped in the lore and real-world inspirations for the tale, I decided to look up the plots for both the book and the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical online, and I'm so happy I did that. While I could see myself enjoying the story regardless of if I'd looked up the plot of the source material or not, I feel I have a deeper understanding than I would have if I hadn't. This story incorporated so many fantastic elements from the original story while weaving a new paralleled tale. I greatly enjoyed the author's spin and expansion of the story and how she incorporated outside elements (I feel I have to be vague to avoid spoilers) to deepen the world building and story even more.

Predictability: I have a love/hate relationship with the amount of foreshadowing in this book. On the one hand, I love it because it shrouds many elements of the story and the characters in a layer of mystery and never really supplies substantial clues as to what's going on so when those reveals come they hit you with a full force. On the other hand, I hate it because I felt like I wasn't teased enough and with me already not enjoying the romance as much as I wanted to there were a couple of times when I contemplated taking a long break from the book, possibly never coming back to it. (Not because I'd DNF it, but more because I'd get caught up in another story and eventually forget about it.)

Ending: I always hate saying that the ending is my favorite part because I feel as though I'm saying I'm happy the book's over, however, that's most definitely not the case here. Most of the really juicy mysteries of this story aren't revealed until the ending, before the final climax, and this ending really delivered a lot of shocking moments. As we got closer and closer to the final climax things just kept getting more intense. The final climax itself wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was still enthralling all the same. As for how the story ended, without giving away spoilers, I'm happy with how it ended. There is a trope in the final chapter I'm not a huge fan of, but I'm willing to overlook it since I did enjoy the rest of the epilogue-esque ending that ties up pretty much every loose end.

Rating:


Even with how much I DESPISED the romance for a good long portion of this story, by the end, I was debating whether or not to give this book either four or four and a half stars. I decided to go with four since my lack of interest and loathing of the romance did significantly affect my enjoyment of this story, however as for the plot itself, leaving out my feelings on the romance, I'd give this book five stars all the way!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2) by Brittany Cavallaro (WOW #23)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that everyone’s excited about!


In the second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. 

So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.


The Last of August releases on February 14, 2017, from Katherine Tegan Books

I'm a huge sucker for Sherlockian inspired books, and when I read the first book in the Charlotte Holmes series last year I got hooked to this sort of unconventional Sherlock tale. The modern day setting, female Holmes, and male narrator in the form of Jamie Watson were all amazing, and to top it off there's very little romance, in fact there's really only a small hint at a romance. I can't wait to see how these characters will evolve in this next installment and the mystery our heroes will find themselves in the middle of!

So, what are you waiting for this Wednesday?



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Monday, January 9, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) + GIVEAWAY!



Release Date: January 10, 2017
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Length: 380 pages
Source: eGalley for Blog Tour

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

    

Review:

Characters: When Ari and Cvareh have a chance meeting, that nearly leads to a brutal battle, they find themselves seeking something the other has and are willing to trade. Ari wants vengeance for those she's lost due to the Dragon King, and Cvareh needs passage to the Alchemist's Guild on Loom, in exchange, he offers a boon, a wish that he's bound to do anything to fulfill. There are other characters who the pair come into contact with, most notably their traveling companion and Ari's student Florence, and the Dragon King's right hand who will do anything to see Cvareh dead. I'm a sucker for a book with multiple perspectives, especially when those perspectives are in the third person. The author does a fantastic job giving each character's perspective it's own voice so even if you don't see who's chapter it is, it's obvious by how the chapter is written. Each of these characters are so compelling and even the "bad guy" character's perspective even as she hunts our heroes, is so enthralling. One of the things I love that this author did was give us these badass characters, but over time we get to see their flaws and shortcoming and we get to see them even overcome some of them.

Romance: There isn't a lot of romance in this book, at least not a lot of obvious romance. I feel almost like admitting there's romance in this book is a spoiler because of how slowly things burned between two of the characters. I went into this book expecting a fiery romance born from the opposition between Ari and Cvareh, but what I actually got was (while similar) something different. The chemistry between Ari and Cvareh is off the charts, even when they're fighting there's this palpable tension between the two that makes you live for the moments when they let their walls down and show each other their vulnerabilities. The romance is a very slow burning one, so slow that at times I wasn't even sure if there was a romance in this book. However, what I found ironic was that I was far more invested in this slow-burning possibility of a romance than almost any romance I've read before.

World Building: Something unique I found about this book is that there aren't large info-dumps in the beginning of this book to let you get to know these characters and the world they live in. Instead, the author drops you right in the middle of this world without so much as a road map (though there is a map in the beginning of the book and an appendix in the back) and you discover what's going on in this world bit by bit, and the best part is that the storyline described in the synopsis doesn't take a third of the book to start, instead it happens by the end of the first chapter. As you learn about this world bit by bit it starts to come alive and, if you're anything like me, you begin to care for this world and its denizens. I don't want to talk too much about this world because I feel if I say too much that I'll ruin the experience of discovering it through the book, but it's pretty intense. I loved watching the world unfold before me and while there was never anything I would describe as an info-dump, by the end of the book, I felt like I had a pretty good, if not excellent, grasp on the world and what was going on, and yet there's still so much more to explore.

Predictability: This book was far less predictable that I'd care to admit. The author does an astounding job at hiding things from the reader. Since we learn about this world and these characters bit by bit, when big aspects of these characters are brought up, significant moments from their pasts, it was always a huge surprise to me. In fact all of the things I was able to predict I'm sure the author meant for readers to be able to figure out before the reveal. Then there were things I thought were going to happen that didn't, which I'll talk about more in a bit, regardless, this book was incredibly well plotted out and while I still have a great many questions about this world I'm sure I'll get my answers soon and in a way I didn't expect.

Ending: This is one of those books where I'm unsure quite where the ending really starts. The final climax, or at least what would traditionally be the final climax happens earlier in the book than I had anticipated and while there was still a great more to discover in this installment, I knew from the moment a certain chapter ended that we wouldn't get a traditional ending to this installment. In fact, as the end drew nearer I was expecting a huge twist, something that would have me reeling until the next installment in this series, and yet, one didn't come. That's not to say that the end of this installment wasn't great it was, there was some really profound character development, but that final bit of excitement I was hoping for never really came.

Rating:


Going into this book, I didn't expect to love it as much as I do now. I love how the author takes her time to tell this story bit by bit and only revealing enough to keep you interested. While I do there was a more explosive ending, I'm still waiting with bated breath for the next installment in this series!

About the Author:



Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).



Giveaway:


1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM, International.

3 winner will receive THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM Swag Packs, International.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4)

Release Date: April 5, 2000
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 194 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Dear Reader,

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.

The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.

I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

    

Review:

Protagonists: After escaping Count Olaf for the third time, the Baudelaire children find themselves employed at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, where their new guardian, Sir, is the owner. While the work is backbreaking, and the foreman is a real piece of work, the children are happy to be free of Count Olaf, at least for a while. There's a weird building across the street from the mill that is suspiciously shaped like the tattoo on Count Olaf's ankle, and after Klaus pays a visit to this building strange things start to happen. Is Count Olaf actually closer than they think? Okay, so this is the fourth book in this series that I've reviewed after deciding to reread this series, and I'm sad to see that there wasn't as much development in the children as I thought early on. However, this book does have a glimmer of development for our heroes as they have to rely on skill sets that are out of their comfort zone. I really enjoyed this small break from the wash, rinse, repeat storytelling that we had with these adventures so far.

World Building: Much like with the character development there is a bit of a break in form for the overall storytelling as well. While I've seen that this is many people's least favorite installment in the series, and it wasn't really a favorite of mine as a child either, as an adult, I can appreciate that the author decided to ditch the very cookie cutter pacing of the other books and present an adventure in this series that's a bit different. To start off, while in books two and three of this series the children had loving, if not a bit insipid, guardians, in this adventure we hardly ever get to see their guardian and instead of a nice home they work in a lumbermill preparing logs into suitable building materials. Also, count Olaf's first appearance feels a bit different. It's not something that happens almost immediately and it actually takes a little while before we find out how he's disguised himself this time. The story itself is a bit boring, however, for me, it was saved by how the author shook things up. P.S. Is it just me or does anyone else find it weird that the children can immediately spot Count Olaf in his disguise, but never one of this associates?

Foreshadowing: Once again Snicket employs fantastic allegories that always seem to become important later in the story. While after a fairly repetitive story cycle I could see readers thinking they could know exactly where things are headed in this installment, for first-time readers I think there are a few surprises. In fact, even though I've read this book before, it's been so long that I was actually rather surprised with how certain things came into play. It's still a fairly predictable adventure, but there are some nice refreshing twists in there to keep it interesting enough.

Rating:


Once again I've left out the ending section because there wasn't really any need for it and I wasn't going to babble on just to fill a spot. That being said though I ended up liking this installment better than when I first read it. As I said in my full review the change of pace was nice, I just wish that the author would have started to expand the world sooner in this series. Luckily it won't be too much longer...

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2) by C.J. Redwine (WOW #22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that everyone’s excited about!


An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. 

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself. 

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.


The Wish Granter releases on February 14, 2017, from Balzer + Bray

Gah! I can't wait to start this book! I read The Shadow Queen last year and really enjoyed it. When I first heard the title for this installment I expected an Aladdin retelling, but was happier to discover a Rumpelstiltskin retelling instead. Not that I wouldn't have like an Aladdin retelling, but a Rumpelstiltskin retelling was a really nice surprise. I like that this all appears to be contained to one kingdom, instead of spread over two like the previous one, and I'm chomping at the bit to see if there's any sort of crossover than just the fact that the two books exist in the same world.

So, what are you waiting for this Wednesday?


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Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Review: Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Release Date: December 13, 2016
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 379 pages
Source: Purchased Book

The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

    

Review:

Characters: With Kraeshia ruling over Mytica, all hope seems lost for those who wish for its freedom. Cleo and Magnus end up following a seemingly changed, and not as dead as he should be, Gaius in hopes of finding Lucia and freeing Mytica from the hold of Amara. However, the young couple's journey is not without its challenges. Gaius tries to break them up at every chance he can get, telling Magnus that romantic love is a weakness that will keep him from power. Cleo wants to believe that Magnus is not the same cold and calculating man that murdered her first love in cold blood, but when they are joined by Jonas and the rest of the Rebellion that's come back from Kraeshia, Magnus's cold self returns. Is it all an act, or is Magnus just showing his true colors? Jonas and a pregnant Lucia end up crossing paths and end up joining each other, much to their mutual aggravation. Along the way, both must confront their destinies and find out what their places in this world are. Okay, I know that last part was really short, but the section was getting long and I needed to start the wrap-up. Overall, I still love these characters. What I find most interesting though are how the core four characters feel about each other. When I first started reading this series, I expected them to all team up and at the very least hold mutual respect for each other, if not like them, but there are still characters that even after all their faults I consider "good" that aren't on good terms with other "good" characters which make for an incredibly tense and wonderful to read dynamic.

Romance: Another misconception I had when first starting this series was how the romance might go. I don't think I ever went into this series expecting romance, at least not to the point we've got, but once it became clear that there was a romantic aspect between quite a few characters I thought I knew where things were headed. First off I expected Jonas and Cleo to get together, and granted maybe even the author did too, but honestly, I'm glad they didn't. While I did enjoy their chemistry, the tension and romantic connection between the dark and brooding Magnus, and the formerly pompous but recently hardened Cleo, was an unexpected and completely obsession-worthy match. There are of course other romances in this book, including a certain annoying red-haired boy and a recently resurrected prince. One of the things I love best about this series is how the author doesn't put romance at the forefront of the story to drive it, nor does she hide it in the background. With this many characters of adolescent age, there's bound to be romance and it's handled very well. Sometimes romance needs to drive the plot to new places but it never takes over or overshadows the main plot. There is a bit of romantic drama in this book, some misunderstandings or characters blowing things out of proportion, but still it never distracts from the main plot.

World Building: First off, let me say that if you haven't read or kept up with the Spirits and Thieves spin-off series you really should. It's not needed to fully understand or appreciate the added world building of this installment, however, there are a few things that are casually mentioned and introduced in this book that may seem jarring to those haven't had the right context for those revelations. Though, like I said, on the whole, they shouldn't affect the series that much so it's more of an optional thing, though I still recommend doing it. Now on to the real juicy stuff. Most of this book takes place in Paelsia and so there isn't really all that much additional world to explore, at least not physically, but there is a great deal more to learn about the Kindred, about the King of Blood's past, and about the prophecies concerning key members of our core four characters. This book isn't exactly long, but there's still a great deal of information and adventure packed into here. One of the most interesting parts of this whole book to me was seeing how civilians thought of our core four heroes. I mean, logically if everything turns out okay in the end, Magnus and Cleo will probably end up ruling all of Mytica, however, their subjects or at least the Paelsian people since that's mostly who we see, hate them. They barely know who Jonas is, and most that do think he's dead or hate him too, and all anyone knows about Lucia is that she's a vengeful witch who's burnt down countless Paelsian villages. I'm very interested to see how public opinion is of them once the series has concluded.

Predictability: One of my favorite things about Rhodes's writing, especially with this series, is that you never quite know who or what to trust. This series has so far gone in so many unexpected places. I mean when this series started the main villain was King Gaius, but over the course of the series we've seen far worse enemies at play. Power hungry gods, disingenuous Watchers, and a princess who had a good idea, but because of the influence of others has taken it too far and now threatens all of Mytica, and probably the world as well. Since there's a lot that goes on in this story, there's a lot that can be twisted and happen in ways you wouldn't expect or even believe. I can't tell you how many theories I had for this book that turned out not quite as I had expected them too. There were, of course, things that I did guess that were fairly easy to, but while that never detracted from my enjoyment of the twists, it was obviously the things that caught me off guard that I enjoyed the most.

Ending: *Throws book at the wall* Yeah, I've seen a lot of that going around when it comes to the end of this book, and while I did not physically throw my book against the wall, I understand and agree with the sentiment. When I first saw that this book had an excruciating cliffhanger I began to expect the worst, I actually had three theories as to what might happen at the end of this book, none of which was even close to right. There is actually more than one cliffhanger for this book and while the first two might be rather intense, one even leading me to shed a few tears, it's what happens in the last chapter, on the last page that has me counting the days until the final installment in this series. (At least, I would count the days if we had a definitive release date.) The way this installment ended as a whole really set up that this next book will be the final battle. Things get really intense and I'm excited to see how our heroes manage to (hopefully) save the day.

Rating:


Once again I'm blown away by this world, these characters, and how this story unfolds. I swear, each time I start one of these books I'm afraid that this will be the time I'm disappointed or that this installment won't measure up, but every. single. time. the story exceeds my every expectation. I can't wait to find out how this series ends, and at the same time, I don't want it to end.

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