Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: The Angel Hunt (Dark World: The Angel Trials #2)

Release Date: May 17, 2018
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: 266 pages
Source: Review Copy

The hunt for demons is about to heat up.

Somehow Raven has convinced Noah and Sage—the two wolf shifters who saved her from a demon attack—to let her tag along on their quest to kill ten demons. The payoff for completing the mission? Entrance to the mystical island of Avalon, where Raven will go through trials to gain the strength she needs to save her mom’s life.

Raven wants to help the shifters on their quest. But Noah refuses to put her in any danger—which makes no sense, since he hates her. At least she thinks he hates her… until he catches her off guard and kisses her. Suddenly they’re connected in ways she doesn’t understand, and she feels closer to him than ever.

If she didn’t know any better, she’d think they imprinted on each other. But that’s impossible. Because shifters can’t imprint on humans.

And if they did imprint on each other, then the supernatural world is changing—and Raven’s right in the center of it.

Emotions will flare between Raven and Noah in the second book in The Angel Trials series, an urban fantasy adventure with romance, magic, and twists that will keep you reading long into the night!



Protagonist: Once again I wish I could add an "s" to the end of this section and talk about seeing various POVs in this series, but alas Raven, again, has the vast majority of the story to tell. It's not that I dislike Raven in any way, I really love how she grows and changes over the course of this book, she's still a stubborn spitfire, but in this installment, she really starts to find her groove with her demon hunter companions and starts to feel necessary to their plans of finally getting to Avalon. Raven really starts to take more control of her destiny and pushes herself further in this book. However, I still really wish that we could see from more characters' perspectives, like Noah and Sage, particularly Sage as we learn a little bit more about her and the little that we get seems like it could snowball into something great.

Romance: This is definitely where most of the attention in this installment is placed. In the first installment, the romance between Raven and Noah was merely set up, where here things are turned up to a whole new level. The romance was what really intrigued me most about the first installment, apart from the main plot, I was so interested in seeing how a relationship between Raven and Noah might work if they could never imprint (which is a word I'm not particularly a fan of as it has too many Twilight connotations for my liking, but since it's based on how many animals find a mate, I've sorta let it go.) Then I read the synopsis, and I sort of felt all my interest leave for the romance in this series, I mean, if they can just imprint anyway, where's the struggle, where's the fight to be with each other if their only known roadblock isn't actually a roadblock. All I'll say on the matter is that after reading this book, I might be even more into the romance than ever, I really like the connection between Raven and Noah, even if Noah can be a grumpy little tool sometimes, and I really enjoyed how the author chose to handle their feelings for one another, seriously it's taking so much in me to not gush out spoilers when talking about this.

World Building: Honestly, I don't even know what to write here. There is a decent amount of plot progression and world building in this book, but much like the first installment in this series, I never felt there was enough for a full installment, even by Michelle Madow standards, while we do learn quite a bit more about shifters, and we see more about how the supernatural world works outside of Vampire Kingdoms. Since a large portion of this book is much more about character development and romance, there isn't a whole lot of time to move things along, which kind of bugged me at times as I'm itching to really get things started in this series. There are so many questions hanging in the air going into this book, and I honestly aside from some romance related ones, we don't get a whole lot of answers. In a lot of ways, this felt like the second third of a book, full of action, adventure, and romance, but while the main plot and world building are not forgotten, they're more pushed off to the side for a while, only to spring up when absolutely necessary.

Predictability: There wasn't a single thing in this book that surprised me. Now, that's not the same thing as being able to predict everything, which I was pretty much able to do, but more that when there was something revealed that I didn't know, it didn't shock me in any way. I was really hoping to be surprised by something in this book, even something small, but aside from the synopsis giving a little too much detail and the things I know from the previous series, nothing here took me by surprise.

Ending: So, this was a really great ending. I mean, sure, the final climax could have been better, much like the final climax in the previous installment I felt no real emotional investment on the part of our heroes that would make it special, I mean sure they have their lives to protect and they want to make it to Avalon, both very good driving forces, but for a final climax I feel it should have more depth and mean something more to the characters, now the outcome of the final climax, there's your emotional investment, and it's a really intese few chapters leading to the end of this installment, but since I wouldn't consider that part of the final climax, even though it was to some extent, or really all extent, a byproduct of the final climax, I just wish there was more at stake before the final climax starts than after it's over. Much like nearly all of Madow's previous Dark World books, this story ends with an epilogue chapter of sorts that seems to tee up not only where Book 3 will begin but also introduces a rather interesting new character.


So, I did like this book better than the first in this series, but it also suffers from a few of the same problems as the first one, mainly that even for a Michelle Madow book, the pacing is just off and it doesn't quite feel like a full installment, nor does it feel like the second half of an installment. I am still very invested in this series and cannot wait for the next book, I'm just hoping for something a bit more than what we have been getting.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Novella Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)

Release Date: May 1, 2018
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Length: 229 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.



Protagonists: So, while the synopsis says that this book is narrated by both Feyre and Rhysand, that's not (technically) true. See, while all of the first person POV chapters are from Feyre and Rhysand, there are chapters, and parts of chapters, that are told in a limited third person POV that follow other members of Feyre's Night Court family. First off, I have to say how amazing it was to see these characters again, and even though it's been a while since I read A Court of Wings and Ruin, the minute I sat down to read this book it was like I never left and that's very much due to how these characters fly off the page. Honestly, there aren't that many characters that have internal conflicts that get even a little bit resolved in this story. Mostly this book felt like a set up for where certain characters will be when the series officially resumes. As you would expect it's Feyre who has the most internal conflict and character development in this story, mostly relating to the aftermath of the war with Hybern and how she'll deal with not only being the High Lady of the Night Court but also someone who suffered the loss of her father at the hands of the King of Hybern. When it comes to Rhys, I loved seeing from his POV, even if he is a big horndog from time to time, it was great to really see what he's going through in this story and really see how much he loves his family and Feyre. When it comes to the other characters, well they all have rather small arcs in comparison to Feyre and Rhys, but even with that third person POV, there's a lot of information about these characters revealed in this story, which is definitely another reason why these characters feel like they come to life when reading this story.

Romances: I was going to start this section about how, while I love the romance and relationship between Feyre and Rhys, it almost seems too stable, as much as I don't want anything bad to happen to this couple, I kind of wish there was some sort of conflict with their relationship, nothing major or threatening, but something normal, something that made their relationship a bit more relatable, however, this is just a short novella and with it not have that much conflict within well, I couldn't fault the author on that. Besides, I did love every freaking minute between those two, it's more that I barely have anything to write when it comes to their relationship, other than how strong it is in this book. As for the other characters in this story, well you'll see where Nesta and Cassian are at, and possibly have a hint at where that tumultuous relationship is headed and I can't wait to see how that all plays out. Then there's whatever is going on between Az, Elain, and Lucien, which again, I feel is more set up in this story than it actually having any development, we sort of see where things lie for these other relationships, but the author's intent is clearly to go deeper into those romances in the upcoming books.

World Building: With this not being a full installment in the series I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of not only the story but the world building as well. I know this novella is described as a story to "bridge the gap" between the two the last book and the next, but honestly, that's pretty vague since we don't really have a concrete idea of what the next book will be about. In the end, the world building in this book is all about the ramifications caused during the war with Hybern, specifically the fact that the Wall is down and that there are Illyrian warriors who blame the heavy losses of their warriors on Rhys and Cassian. However, I was sort of disappointed to see that there isn't all that clear of a view for where the series is heading from here on out. Sure, we have a few plotlines teed up for the next few books, but I was kind of hoping to see a bit of a bigger picture, and instead, it feels like I got tiny glimpses but nothing close to the full thing.

Predictability: Since this story is so short there isn't a lot of time for big twists, and for most of this story it felt like I was just following along rather than picking up pieces of foreshadowing and trying to figure out some big twist. With that being said, there are a few surprises in this book, but usually, they're very obvious if you're good at picking up foreshadowing it's not hard to see where certain plotlines will go, but that never ruined the fun for me. I still relished every moment of this story.

Ending: Again, with this not being a full installment, there wasn't really much of an external conflict for these characters to overcome, so the ending of this story isn't as climactic as one of the novels in this series, so there isn't a whole lot I feel I can comfortably write in this section without spoiling something. All I'll say is that the last chapter feels a lot like an epilogue and wraps up some of the plotlines in this story while still leaving a lot to be resolved in the upcoming books. Oh, and the last few sentences melted my freaking heart.


Have you ever wanted to read a story about your favorite characters (assuming the ACOTAR characters are some of your favorites) having fun and interacting without a whole lot of conflict getting in the way? Then this story is for you. Seriously, there isn't all that much conflict in this story and I didn't think it could be done, as I feel conflict, and its resolution, can lead to an even sweeter ending, but here it really works.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Release Date: April 11, 2017
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length:336 pages
Source: Purchased Audio Book

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?



Protagonist: Molly Peskin-Suso has a lot of crushes in her life, and out of those crushes she's never been in a relationship. So, when it seems like everyone in her life from her twin sister to her best friend all have relationships, she feels she's missing out on something and strives to have her first relationship, luckily her sister's new girlfriend has a cute hipster best friend. Then there's her new co-worker, a guy she would never have a crush on, but she can't seem to get him out of her head. I swear Becky Albertalli writes the most relatable characters for me. I've also had a lot of experience with unrequited romantic feelings and every word the author uses to describe those feelings and what Molly goes through in this book just hit home so freaking hard. I loved seeing Molly's POV, and I love that, after reading Leah on the Offbeat, that Molly's experience being fat is different than Leah's even though they face a lot of the same struggles. Molly is a character that flies off the page from the very beginning.

Romance: If I were to have any negative things to say about this book it would have to be in regard to the romance. It has nothing to do with Reid, one of Molly's love interests, since being a fat nerdy guy I really liked seeing someone like me as a serious love interest. It had more to do with the love triangle than anything else and possibly because of how much is given away in the synopsis. I never really felt that there was anything surprising about this romance and while I felt it played out in a very authentic way, I sort of wish there was something more to the romance in this book. Still, I do really like Molly's relationships with both her suitors.

World Building: Going into this book I knew that this took place in the same universe as both Simon and Leah, but I didn't know how much those characters factored into this book, I figured Abby would pop up, since this book is about her cousins, but I was extremely surprised to find that Simon also appears in this book. I loved seeing all the little call outs to Simon's book, but also this book could stand completely on its own, and it does, you don't need to read aby other Albertalli books, though you should they're fantastic. I loved seeing so much representation in this book, from racial representation to LGBT rep, to Fat rep, it was so great so many diverse characters in this amazing contemporary novel.

Predictability: So as I said in the romance section, the romance wasn't really all that surprising, but that doesn't mean that this book wasn't surprising. One of the biggest surprises I found with this book is how much more dramatic this book is than Simon's book, or even Leah's, there's more confrontation which was really great to see from this author as it seems she reserves drama for when it happens naturally, it never seems like, in any of her books, she goes out of her way to include drama and confrontation, everything just sort of unfolds naturally. There are also a few great twists in turns in this book which I also really enjoyed.

Ending: While I do feel that this book, much like Simon's does have a full ending, they both sort of end abruptly. I mean once the main plot is all settled there's a rather large chunk to make sure and tie everything up, but once everything s tied up the story just sort of ends, but maybe that's just because I never want to leave this world and I just love these characters too much.


While this wasn't my favorite Albertalli book, I still freaking loved it and can't wait to read more from this author in the future, hopefully, there will be more books in the Simonverse to explore!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)

Release Date: April 24, 2018
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 352 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.



Protagonist: While we didn't really get a lot of Leah in Simon vs. the Homo Sapien's Agenda, well, now she has her own books and she freaking kills it! I love Leah so much as a character, I mean she was great for the odd sarcastic and snarky retort or comment in Simon, but I love getting to see a more vulnerable side to her in this book, it's that vulnerability that I very quickly related to, I mean nearly everything she goes through in this book felt extremely relatable, the vulnerabilities about her weight, bisexuality, and art were the things I related to the most, although instead of drawings substitute stories, but they're very similar feelings. In the end, Leah's really this giant ball of insecurities and vulnerabilities with a hard badass shell. I loved learning more about her character, seeing the trials and tribulations she goes through in her Senior Year of High School, and I seriously couldn't get enough of her.

Romance: So, the biggest mystery for me going into this book was, who will be Leah's love interest, and I have to say I didn't really see it coming, at all. Obviously I'm not going to give it away, as just like with Simon the love interest is a mystery for much of the book, well actually that's not quite true, after a certain point it becomes obvious who Leah will gravitate more towards, but for a good while there, there were a lot of prospects, or at least they were prospects in my head, and I liked seeing this array of posibilities for Leah, I mean for a second there I thought that Leah and Taylor might eventually be a thing, they aren't but it was an interesting ship for a page or two. Though I'm glad it wasn't Taylor as I ship Leah and her Love Interest so freaking hard in this book, I mean I was seriously surprised at how much I adored them together and I really wish the book was longer just so that I could have more of them together.

World Building: When I first saw this book being described as a "sequel" to Simon vs. the Homo Sapien's Agenda, I was kind of like "Eh, it's more of a companion, but whatever, I'm not complaining." however, this book, in so many ways, feels like a sequel to Simon, even if there's a new narrator. We're back at Creekwood High and nearly everyone from the first book is back and their lives are about to get so, so complicated as they navigate prom, college tours, college acceptances, (or lack thereof) and of what the world will bring them after they've left high school. Things are getting real and tensions rise as reality crashes down hard. While it was painful seeing some of these characters go through some real and shitty struggles, I had to remind myself that characters struggling is a good thing, as not only is it more realistic, but it's those struggles that make everything worth it, I mean a story with no struggle is frankly just boring. Oh, and if anyone's wondering, there are references made to the characters of The Upside of Unrequited, though unlike this book being a sequel for Simon, there isn't the same, or really any, level of "sequel" for that installment, or at least I don't think so, I haven't read it yet and honestly don't feel like anything was spoiled, in fact I want to read it even more now.

Predictability: So, as I said, the main mystery of this book, at least for me, was who Leah's primary love interest would be, and like I said, I didn't see it coming. I mean, there's plenty of foreshadowing that hints at it, even early on, but I didn't take it seriously for quite a while. As for everything else in this book, well it's a little on the predictable side, but at the same time, it never felt like the author was trying to shock or surprise readers. There are some really funny twists, such as where the gang goes for dinner before prom, and how a certain prom-posal goes down. In conclusion, this isn't a twisty shocking book, it's a fun and sometimes devastatingly realistic journey and while there a few surprises here and there, there's nothing too shocking in this story.

Ending: As I said before, I really didn't want this book to end, and there were quite a few reasons for that, one is that there wasn't really a final climax to this book, or well there is but it comes so late in the book that there were certain things I wished to see explored before the book finished. The final climax was really emotional and I loved every minute and every word of it, but I do still wish that we got the see how certain characters reacted to everything before tying the book up. The final chapter acts as an epilogue taking place in the near future and tying nearly everything up and it's just freaking adorable and I loved that as well as it really highlights just how far Leah has come since the beginning of this book.


Is it any surprise that I gave this book 5 stars!? I mean, I love Simon so much and this book has a very similar feel, obviously, and in some ways, I feel that I love it even more than Simon, and if we don't get a "Love, Leah" move or whatever, I'm seriously going to be bummed.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

International Giveaway! Win a Hardcover Copy of The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3) by Rick Riordan

The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon. . . .

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  3. THIS GIVEAWAY IS OPEN FROM MAY 2, 2018 AT 12:01 AM PST TO MAY 9, 2018 AT 12:01 AM PST


Monday, April 30, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: The Outcast (Summoner Prequel)

Release Date: May 1, 2018
Author: Taran Matharu
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 400 pages
Source: Thanks to Fantastic Flying Book Club Tours for including me on their tour, click the banner above to see the full schedule!

Enter an immersive world where the chosen few have the ability to summon demons...

Arcturus is just an orphaned stable boy when he discovers he has the ability to summon demons from another world. He is sent to Vocans Academy where the lost arts of summoning, spell craft and demonology are taught to the noble children of the Empire. As the first commoner gifted with this ability, his discovery challenges the nobility and the powers that be and Arcturus soon makes enemies. With no one but his demon Sacharissa by his side, Arcturus must prove himself as a worthy Summoner...

Set before the events of SUMMONER: The Novice this is the perfect introduction to the New York Times bestselling SUMMONER series



Protagonist: Arcturus was just a common stable boy, with dreams of leaving and forging his own destiny, he never could have dreamed he was a Summoner, an elite group of fighters who can summon demon companions and work magic, a group believed to only be among the nobility of Hominum. As the first common Summoner in history, Arcturus finds a lot of disdain at Vocans Academy where he is sent to train his summoning skills, however, there are a few friendly faces among the stuck-up nobles. With tensions mounting between the common folk and the nobility, Arcturus may just get caught in the middle. Of course, I love Arcturus from the main series and seeing this adventure from when he was young is a lot of fun. Honestly, Arcturus felt very much like Fletcher in terms of his personality, I mean he's a brave, moral, and kind person, just like Fletcher, though their adventures are very different.

World Building: Going into this book I wasn't sure what to expect, I've never read the previous Arcturus story, entitled Origins, though from my research I'd say the first sixteen or so chapters of this book ARE Origins, with the rest being an expansion on that story and really the main plot of this book. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to not only see familiar characters from the series, just younger and less experienced, but we also get to see characters that are only mentioned in the main trilogy. I loved seeing the familiar characters and loved getting to know the ones I only knew by name. Still, there were a few characters I wasn't so happy to see, characters who believe if you aren't a human noble that somehow you're beneath them. While this book focused more on the class divide in Hominum from the King's heavy taxes, there is still obviously a racial divide between humans and dwarves as well, even worse so than the main trilogy. If I had one complaint about this book, it would be that there was a tad too much fan service, characters involved in the story who felt sort of crammed into the story or put in the story, just for that feeling readers sometimes get when they recognize a name or a place from the series they know and love. In the end, it was really only one bit of fan service that really bothered me, something that truly felt as if it added nothing to the overall story and felt like it served no purpose other than to be recognized.

Predictability: Even though this is a trilogy, and I know the fate of all of the main characters, not to mention the state of the kingdom at the start of the main trilogy, so I wasn't expecting to be surprised very often in this book and in all honesty that was true. That isn't to say I was never surprised, I mean this story does have a few fantastic twists that really kept me on the edge of my seat. There wasn't anything too mind-blowing if you've read the main series, but the story is still exciting nonetheless.

Ending: For some reason, I was expecting a larger final climax that we got, but honestly once it came it felt like everything fit perfectly. I mean, I couldn't see this adventure ending any other way and while we didn't get a pulse-pounding one on one action scene, the ending still has some action and again, how everything is resolved, for better or worse, makes sense, again especially if you've already read the main trilogy. The final chapter feels like an epilogue of sorts and it's a great one, you can see where things are going, but nothing it too defined, it perfectly ties up this story in a way that only really leaves open things resolved in the main trilogy.


This prequel was (nearly) everything I hoped for and more, while I could have done with a tad less fan service, particularly in one area, I still loved this book so much and hope that the author won't leave this world forever, it's just too rich to leave alone.

About the Author:

Taran Matharu is a New York Times bestselling author. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’.

Thanks to Wattpad.com and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months.

After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

His SUMMONER series is published by Hodder Children’s (Hachette) in the UK, Australia and Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Hachette Jeunesse in France, Heyne in Germany, Planeta in Spain, Crown in Taiwan, Record in Brazil, EKSMO in Russia, Jaguar in Poland, Ecliptic in Bulgaria, Alpress in the Czech Republic, Ithaki in Turkey and Unieboek in the Netherlands.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Review: Stormcaster (Shattered Realms #3)

Release Date: April 3, 2018
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 544 pages
Source: Library Audio Book

The third book in the thrilling four-book Shattered Realms series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima

The Empresss in the east—the unspeakably cruel ruler whose power grew in Flamecaster and Shadowcaster—tightens her grip in this chilling third installment in the series.

Vagabond seafarer Evan Strangward can move the ocean and the wind, but his magical abilities seem paltry in comparison to Empress Celestine’s. As Celestine’s bloodsworn armies grow, Evan travels to the Fells to warn the queendom of her imminent invasion. If he can’t convince the Gray Wolf queen to take a stand, he knows that the Seven Realms will fall. Among the dead will be the one person Evan can’t stand to lose.

Meanwhile, the queen’s formidable daughter, Princess Alyssa ana’Raisa, is already a prisoner aboard the empress’s ship. Lyss may be the last remaining hope of bringing down the empress from within her own tightly controlled territory.

Multiple intricately interwoven storylines converge in this gripping novel about a brave, coordinated effort to undermine a horrific tyrant.



Characters: I honestly don't know how to write this section because there are just so many characters that this installment focuses on. I mean, I went into this book expecting it to feel like the other installments, a change in focus, this one on Evan Strangward, his story, and what's going on in Carthis, which we sort of get, while possibly getting a few chapters here and there continuing the previous installment and showing what happened to Alyssa after the end of Shadowcaster, which we also sort of get. However, instead, this installment really felt like the first time this series has come into focus as a new generation of heroes banding together to take down a new foe. While I enjoy the first two installments in this series I really fell in love with this series here, this was the first time that I could truly see the focus of this series, which is mostly the amazing and complex characters that fill this amazing world, and while the story might have been spread a bit thin due to how may POVs there are, but honestly I wouldn't have it any other way it really illustrates the scope of this world and this story.

Romances: So, I'm not going to lie to you, there's very little romance in this book, with the romances from the previous books split up for the entire installment we don't get that much development on that front, other than off-handed references and some not so off-handed references here and there, but no real development for the couple. We do have a new POV in this book in the form of Evan Strangward, who is the focus of most of the beginning of this book, and that long beginning does detail a romance that he has, and while it is an adorable romance that I ship to no end, it's not in the book much beyond the beginning and while I understand why that is, as they each have different parts to play in this story, I just wish we could have seen more of them together in this book.

World Building: As I said before, this book was series changing for me, I would say it's mostly because it actually continues the story we know. While the previous installment did continue the story from Flamecaster a bit, Shadowcaster felt more like a companion novel, telling a concurrent story from a different front. This installment, well this installment feels like a mix of those two plotlines with a dash of Carthis and I love it. While there are so many Points of View that sometimes the plotlines can feel a bit spread thin at times, I never felt a lull in the story. I was hooked from the very beginning that the only times I would set this story aside were to make sure I didn't burn through it too fast, which in a way I kind of did as I'm anxiously awaiting the final installment in this series. This book expands the scope of this story so much and finally introduces us to Carthis, the Empire across the sea where a great many mythical creatures are assumed to live, including dragons. It was hard not to be struck with what exploring this world, even more, would be like, I mean, I would be completely down for a series set in this world that takes place completely, or almost completely, in Carthis because I feel there's still so much left to learn and I'm not sure how much will be able to come out in the final installment in this series.

Predictability: So, I'm not sure how to talk about the predictablilty in this installment as, while there are a good number of unpredictable and surprising moments in this installment, I still feel no closer to the answer to two of the biggest mysteries in this series, the first being the origin of those with mage marks, and while it seems that we get some explanation on that, I don't trust the source it comes from, and secondly, who is targeting the royal family, which again I would say we get "closer" to figuring out who it is, but since I'm pretty sure I figured out who it is near the beginning of the previous installment I was kind of hoping that that reveal wouldn't be drawn out. Again, I will say that there are a lot of amazing unpredictable moments in this installment but I felt they all happened at the moment and I didn't really feel a large build-up to anything unexpected.

Ending: So, since there are a few plotlines this book follows there are quite a few final climactic moments and I'll be honest with you, they're all full of tension, including something I thought would never happen in this series, and a particularly bad ass moment by one of my new favorite characters, even if they didn't need to be put in a situation where that badassery was necessary. Anyway, each of these moments is fraught with tension leading to some of the most intense moments in this series. It all leads up to some rather moments where we learn more about not only what just happened, but what will happen as this series heads into its final installment and it ends with one hell of a cliffhanger.


Okay, look, I loved this book, it was nearly impossible to put down and I practically flew through the story. I am so sad that I have to wait for the next installment, and I just pray that it'll be worth the wait!


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Blog Tour Book Review: Tracing Shadows (Scout #1) + GIVEAWAY!

Release Date: April 8, 2017
Author: Alex Lidell
Publisher: Alex Lidell
Length: 312 pages
Source: Review Copy for Tour

To protect the throne, seventeen-year-old spy Kali must play a male guardsman trainee by day and royal lady by night.

Orphaned and trained on a spymaster’s remote estate, Kali is a scout who works alone in the shadows. But when a terror group threatens the Dansil throne, the king forces Kali to accept a mission at the palace or forfeit her sister’s life.

Suddenly thrust into the light, Kali must infiltrate high society as the royal Lady Lianna while penetrating the servant ranks as Kal, a male guardsman trainee. It doesn’t help that Trace, the harsh and enigmatic captain of the king’s guard, is soon assigned as both Lady Lianna’s palace escort and Kal’s commanding officer.

As Kali edges closer to the truth behind the violent group’s identity, she uncovers dangerous secrets that could bring her mission to a brutal end. A scout’s job is to observe and report, never to engage . . . but if it means saving her sister and kingdom, Kali may have no choice.

TRACING SHADOWS, by Amazon bestselling author Alex Lidell, is the first novel in the Scout series. Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, and Sarah J. Maas.



Protagonist(s): The majority of this fantasy tale is told from the first person POV of Kali, a young scout, and spy who is assigned to the palace early in the story in an attempt to keep her kingdom from going into all-out war, oh, and her sister's life is on the line. Kali is an adept spy who can easily pass as either male or female which allows her to take up two roles in the palace, both as the king's newly arrive niece Lianna and a new guard recruit Kal. Kali is very much a lone wolf and has been conditioned to never rely on anyone as you can never be sure who is on your side. I really enjoyed watching Kali grow and develop over the course of this story, even at the expense of her pride on most occasions. Kali is a force to be reckoned with and while she makes plenty of mistakes and does a few pretty unlikable things she gets as good as she gives sometimes. Then there's the Violet of it all. See, even though this book is mostly told from Kali's POV, there are third-person chapters from the POV of Violet, the princess of Dansil, who is still struggling with the loss of her mother and the inattention she gets for not being the king's next in line. Violet's storyline goes to some unexpected places and it was really interesting to watch her character arc blossom over the course of the book.

Romance: So, there's really not a whole lot of romance in this book. I mean, it's there, there's no denying that, but it doesn't really factor into the main plot all that much and most of the book focuses on establishing a relationship between the couple instead of diving head in, which I was very happy to see. The thing is though, I'm not a huge fan of the love interest, Trace, there are times when he can be pigheaded, stubborn, and sexist at times in this book, which is completely on purpose as Kali has none of it, but when I felt that a romantic relationship would start to form between the two, well Trace doesn't show his best side and while I'm sure that it's all part of his character development, it's hard for me to see these two together eventually, let alone root for them.

World Building: Okay, so in the recent past I complained about a series's world not feeling unique enough, in fact, that series has a lot of the same tropes woven into as this one, the difference, this world feels so different. First off there's the POV it's coming from, a spy trained to ferret out secrets and who is tasked with being a spy within the palace walls. Then there's the almost cult-like religion, Children of the Goddess, then there are the stand out characters and their own personal arcs, there is so much about this series and this world that completely blew me away. I love the spy angle and the magic system is very interesting even though I don't quite understand it, that's okay because neither do most of the characters. I was actually really bummed when I found out, at the end of the book no less, that this is going to just be a duology, I really enjoyed the little we saw of this world and am sad that we don't get to explore it for longer, though who knows, maybe the author will write a spin-off farther down the road.

Predictability: Looking back over the book I can say, without a doubt, that for the most part, this story did an excellent job of keeping me on my toes. In fact, of everything revealed in this story, I can really only think of one thing that I was able to predict and even then I wasn't 100% sure. I have to admit I was caught off guard by a twist more than I'm happy to admit, but it made for a very engaging and exciting story.

Ending: So... where was the final climax? As this story was headed towards a close I was anxiously awaiting the final climax, whether that be a physical, action-themed brawl, or something more cerebral, I was waiting, and while there is a bit of tension at the very end, it felt like it was more happening around our characters rather than to them and without a true final climax this story just feels like it was cut short. Don't get me wrong the very end is intense and full of conflict, but much in the way a cliffhanger would be, since that's what it was, but without some sort of final challenge full of tension, something that the book had been building toward, it just sort of feels incomplete.


I really enjoyed this book, I could barely put it down and was sad to see it end so soon. Luckily the wait for the next and final book doesn't seem too long. For the most part, I love this story, but I did have a few minor problems with it but I'm no less chomping at the bit for book 2.

About the Author:

Alex Lidell is the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books. Alex is represented by Leigh Feldman of Leigh Feldman Literary. She lives in Washington, DC.  Join Alex's newsletter for news, bonus content and sneak peeks: www.subscribepage.com/TIDES 


3 winners will receive an eBook set of Alex’s TIDES SERIES & an eBook of TRACING SHADOWSINTERNATIONAL. 

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Review: Attack of the Fiend (The Last Apprentice #4)

Release Date: February 26, 2008
Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 546 pages
Source: Purchased Book

"I see your future clearly. Your master will be dead, and you will be alone. It would be better if you had never been born."

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who banishes boggarts and drives away ghosts. But now a new danger is threatening Tom's world. The witches are rising and the three most powerful clans are uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil.

Tom and the Spook set out to stop the witches before they unleash the demon. But when Tom finds himself on his own, he wonders if he has the courage and cunning to defeat the most powerful enemy he has ever encountered.



Protagonist: Tom, Alice, and the Spook have many trials ahead of themselves when they travel to Pendle to take care of a very serious problem there. Tom also has another reason to go as his family's gone missing and it seems as if Pendle witches are to blame. In an earlier installment I thought I might have just been reading too much into things when I thought Tom was being a bit too prideful and while he may be the Spook's best apprentice he still has a lot to learn, but I felt there was no real pay off or even confirmation that Tom's pride was a bad thing, however it's brought up here and since things are getting much more dangerous Tom needs to learn now more than ever to not get cocky. Again, I love Tom's character and his growth throughout the series so far, and while I know a lot of what happens later on, I can't wait to see him grow even more.

Romance: Wow, haven't seen this section in a review for this book in a while, well that's because it's finally time. As this series progresses Tom will get older, and thus want to find companionship with someone. Now while Alice is the obvious choice for Tom's inevitable love interest, seeing as she's the only girl around his age that we've seen in this world ths far, there is someone else who becomes attracted to Tom. Now, the romance in this installment is very light. It more just begins to introduce the idea of Tom being romantically attached.

World Building: The Dark is growing and for some reason I don't seem to realize that there's an entire story before the final climax because in my previous review for this series I said that things would really start to kick up, and they do, but that's not til much later in this tale. No, this story serves as a fantastic way to explore more of Tom's family, particularly his Mam, though another of his brothers does appear in this book. Tom's Mam is a bit of an enigma and while I want to say here's where we get all our answers about her, I can't, we learn SO much more though and it's done is such a spectacular way. We also learn more abot witches in this installment as well as learn what they're up to and who the Big Bad of this series is. Finally, we meet my all time favorite character of this series, but beware, her scissors are sharp.

Foreshadowing: Much like with the previous installments in this series I cannot comment on the predictability of this book as it's a reread, but there is foreshadowing galore to be found within this book. There are so many things that relate to future installments as well as this one. Looking back I don't think much of it was that obvios though. There were a few things, which I probably shouldn't mention because they're pretty obvious.

Ending: Gah, the ending is fantastic! It's full of tension and anticipation. I can't give too much away but while it isn't something that's scary in the traditional sense and while there are more books in this series narrated by Tom I knew he wasn't going to die yet, but I forgot just how narrowly he escapes danger in this series sometimes. The final climax is fairly different than others I've seen in most books. It's hard to explain bt it's very emotional and tense in the moment. Anyway, once again we are also treated to an epilogue from Tom setting the stage for the next book, the world is changing, the Dark is rising, what's next?


I'll be the first to admit my ratings are this series might be a little skewed as I've reread a few Middle Grade favorites and they haven't held up all that well, but this series does. It's by no means the best series ever but the story is fantastic and the characters are amazing and I love traveling through this story again.