Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Review: Blackout (The Color Alchemist #3) by Nina Walker

blackoutSummary: Trembling in the wake of devastating treachery, can the Loxely sisters finally bring down the Royals?

United in the cause of saving their kingdom and bringing their family back together, Jessa and Sasha will face their greatest tests yet. Jessa’s wedding is coming at her faster than she can stop it, but it’s Sasha who is running out of time. Things aren’t as they seem in the palace, and the one person who can save them is the one they’ll never trust again.

 


My Thoughts: I wish more people knew about this series because it really is fantastic.  At the end of Book 2, the world is kind of in shambles, and we pick up right where we left off.  Lucas and Jessa’s relationship is very strained (for good reason), and I started to get annoyed with Lucas and his not understanding her feelings.  It did taint my view of him for a while, but I came back around to him towards the end.  Sasha is my favorite character, and my love for her grows the more we see and learn about her.  I really enjoy the love triangle between her, Mastin, and Tristan.  I think it’s well done and understandable why she would be torn. *Cough Team Mastin Cough*.  We got a glimpse of West America in Book 2, but it was great to get a more in depth experience with it, and I love where we’re going with this plot line.  I still find the whole system of magic in this book very interesting. Jessa’s growing ability with purple alchemy makes it even more so –There are so many possibilities.  The villains in this series are despicable and I can’t wait for them to get theirs because I am getting frustrated with them and can’t take it anymore.  While I found this book a little slower moving than the others, there was still a ton of action and cliff hangers, and the ending was insane!  I can’t wait for Book 4!

 

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

We Other by Sue Bentley Blog Tour

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We Other with quote V2Summary: Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie.  She is linked to a world where humans- ‘hot bloods’- are disposable entertainment.  Life on a run-down estate — her single mom’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend — become the least of Jess’s worries.



*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

My Thoughts: There have been so many faerie books coming out recently, and I was excited to see the take on them in this book.  We Other started out really strong.  The opening grabbed me, and I loved the transition from the past into the present.  Our heroine, Jess, was a spunky and angsty teen, with too much responsibility on her shoulders, due to her mom’s drinking and abusive relationships.  I think her mom’s history, that we find out in pieces and flashbacks, was my favorite part of the story, and it was cool to put all the pieces together.  The introduction of Caleb and Ivy was a surprise, and the weaving and connecting of all the story lines was really well done.  Jess and Caleb’s relationship felt very inta-lovey to me, and I didn’t buy it 100%.  I liked each of their characters individually, but I didn’t feel a spark between them.  The plot was a little slow moving and anticlimactic, but it was easy to read.  The beginning and the end felt like two different books with where the narrative progressed, and this whole book felt like a set up for the next part of the story.  There were some good reveals, and some exciting moments, but overall it was pretty low-key.  The afterword definitely sets you up for a sequel, and I while I’m not dying for the next book, I would like to see how it turns out.

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About the Author: Sue Bentley

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age.  She worked for We Other - Sue author pic 5Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing.  She is the author of the worldwide, bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years.  She also writes for children and adults under various pen names.  A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the every day.  Her books have been translated into around 20 languages.  We Other is her first book for Young Adults. www.suebentley.co.uk

•Twitter: @Suebentleywords• Facebook: Sue Bentley Author •

• Instagram: @therealsuebentley• Goodreads: Sue Bentley Author 



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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest Review

25740412Goodreads Summary: A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

My Thoughts:  I found this book when I went to Barnes and Noble for the release of another book, and since I am obsessed with witches, the title and cover caught my eye right away.  I looked it up on Goodreads, as you do, and saw that it had a TON of controversy, so of course I had to get it and see what all the fuss was about.  The minute I started it I was HOOKED.  I was immediately drawn into this fantasy world, and loved learning about all of the different races and cultures.  Each one has its own complete history and societal rules, and I wanted to learn more about all of them.  The world as a whole is very segregated and racist, with The University being a melting pot of all cultures.  While I can understand how someone might have an issue with the idea of such a racist society, it made sense in this case.  The whole point of the novel is our protagonist, Elloren, and her friends discovering that what they were raised to believe about people isn’t necessarily the truth.  One of my favorite scenes was Elloren and her brother trading rumors with a couple of Lupines about things they had heard about each other’s cultures, and realizing how wrong both sides were.  There were a lot of dynamic characters, and I felt that they were all really well developed.  Elloren could get a little whiny sometimes, but it made sense with her naiveté and her sheltered upbringing.  She had a great arc, and though it takes her a while to move past everything she was indoctrinated to believe, I thought that her arc felt natural and realistic.  There was also a ton of good sexual tension with her and her love interests, and who doesn’t love that?  I was completely absorbed in the plot, especially towards the end, and while it was slower moving at some points,  it was super character driven.  I fell in love with these characters and their magical world, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here after that cliff hanger ending.

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Reading Challenges

My New Book Buying Ban

Like most of you, my book shelf is quite literally overflowing with books I have yet to read.  I recently just made a ton of headway on my TBR by putting myself on a book buying ban from November- March (I know.  I don’t know how I did it either.)  There were a few little loopholes, like a couple of library trips, but for the most part I stuck to it and finally got through a lot of the books that have been sitting in my apartment for a while.  I really would like to get to the point where I actually need to buy a new book.  I decided to break my ban at the end of March, and bought one book at a train station after having a good audition… Once I broke it, all bets were off and I became a monster.  I could not stop buying books.  It culminated with me crying in Barnes and Noble because my boyfriend told me I couldn’t buy the PILE of books I had chosen… Yes. I am overdramatic.  After this incident, I have decided to put myself back on a ban, but I have figured out some new rules which should make it easier, and hopefully will curb the book buying binges that I have learned depriving myself leads to.

Lexie’s Book Buying Ban Rules

I must read ten books that I own before buying one new book.

Library books do not count towards the ten, but ARC and review requests do.

Anticipated new releases do not count in the ban.

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Wish me luck folks!

 

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Review

34066636Goodreads Summary: What more can a mystery addict desire than a much-loathed murder victim found aboard the luxurious Orient Express with multiple stab wounds, thirteen likely suspects, an incomparably brilliant detective in Hercule Poirot, and the most ingenious crime ever conceived?

My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading this book ever since I saw the preview for the recent film adaptation.  I knew I had to read it before I saw the movie, and I finally did.  I have to say that I was slightly underwhelmed.  With this being one of the most famous mysteries of all time, I was expecting my mind to be blown.  The ending was great, and I honestly had no idea who the culprit was going to be until it was revealed, but the rest of the lead up was a little boring.  There didn’t seem to be an actual plot, just very by the book mystery solving.  It kept me far removed from the story, and while I was intrigued by figuring it out, I was pretty unconnected.  I’m fairly new to detective stories, if you don’t count Nancy Drew, but I feel like I was expecting a more immersive experience.  I also would have liked to have been able to figure it out a little more, but there was so much information that Poirot just knew, that came out of nowhere, that it was pretty much impossible to infer anything yourself.  I watched the film after reading it, and I enjoyed it (how could you not, that cast is incredible), but I was still underwhelmed.  I’m thinking that maybe this style of story telling just isn’t for me.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah Review

the-great-alone-kristin-hannahGoodreads Summary:  Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

My Thoughts: She does it again.  This book is fabulous.  I went into it having no idea what to expect, other than that I have loved every other book by Kristin Hannah.  I was captivated by the premise, and as soon as they made it to Alaska, I was hooked. The way Hannah has of creating real and flawed characters that burrow their way into your heart is unparalleled for me.  I immediately connected with Leni and her family, and felt for their struggles.  I think her mother, Cora, was my favorite.  She was so complex, and I really think that Hannah did an amazing job in creating a vessel for this extremely complicated and difficult subject matter.  All of the characters were wonderfully vivid and unique, and helped to establish the vibrancy of Alaska, which might as well have been a character itself.  The setting was so beautifully fleshed out in great detail and it felt alive.  The time period played such a huge role in the development of the story, from the small pop culture references to the bigger issues, like a woman not being able to get a credit card without her father or husband to sign off on it, or the lack of diagnosis for PTSD.  In another time, the story would have played out very differently.  There was a deep intensity and an underlying sense of foreboding throughout the entire book, and it kept me riveted all the way to the final page, where I was sobbing like a little baby (as her books tend to make me do).  So thank you Kristin Hannah for once again grabbing  hold of my heart and pulling it into your story, where I feel a part of it still is.

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Book Hangover

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Review

23734628Goodreads Summary: Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts: This book was everything I wanted and more.  I had heard great things about it, but it surpassed my expectations.  I started reading it late at night before bed which was a huge mistake, because I could not stop reading.  I loved how it poked fun at Harry Potter, and almost seemed like fan-fiction, but in the best way.  The world of magic was so creative, clever, and hilarious, and everything was incredibly developed and fresh.  It made so much sense to me and was really realistic.  (Words have power. DUH!)  It was interesting to join them in their final year at school, instead of in the beginning like most other stories.  Learning about everything that had happened up to that point was fun and surprising, and added so much character development.  I fell in love with the characters, Baz especially, and each of their voices in narration were specific, witty, and just plain enjoyable.  The different points of view worked really well in moving the story along.  The plot was addicting, and I sped through to find out what was going to happen to my favorite characters.  I could gush about this book forever.  The minute it was over I wanted to re-read it.  It was funny, sweet, exciting and magical in every possible way.

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Book Hangover

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman Review

22896Goodreads Summary: The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…

My Thoughts:  I have wanted to read Practical Magic  for FOREVER.  I’ve always loved the movie, and when I found out it was based on a book, I immediately added it to my TBR.  I have to say that it was not at all what I was expecting.  It is very different from the film, which I figured it would be, but I was surprised at how much, and how difficult it was for me to let the film go.  Not only in the plot and characters, but in the atmosphere as well.  There aren’t chapters, more like sections, which at first was kind of strange to adjust to.  It kind of felt like a run-on sentence, but it was a really quick read.  The style is very exaggerated and satirical, which I surprisingly liked a lot.  There wasn’t that much magic either.  It was more of an underlying secret hum instead of a main focus.  I really did love the characters, Gillian especially, and their relationships.  The plot is more character-focused than action-based, with everyone being larger than life, and felt more like a narration of these people’s lives than a story.  Somehow, it was still engaging and worked.  I think I like the movie more than I liked the book, but they’re so different it almost isn’t a fair comparison.  If you’re looking for a great fantasy novel or the story of the movie, this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a story about love, family, and growing up, Practical Magic is just the ticket.

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Fracture by Nina Walker Review

36118876Amazon Summary: Broken by magic and murder, he’ll risk everything for revenge.

Prince Lucas is falling to pieces. He couldn’t save his mother, and now his father is hesitant to execute the man responsible for her death. Lucas only has Jessa, the last shred of light left in his dark world. But she’s conflicted.

What if he loses her too?

Jessa made a commitment. Her family, the resistance, even her own country is counting on her to succeed. She must be initiated and gain the trust of the king. She jumps headfirst into her alchemy trials, determined to impress the court. She knew the tests would be dangerous, but never expected they might reveal her secrets.

And what happened to her friend, Sasha, anyway?

The Color Alchemist Series continues with book two of four. An Amazon number one new release, Prism has captivated fans with its unique magic and swoon-worthy romance. Don’t stop the adventure, read Fracture today.

My Thoughts:  I am so in love with this series.  When I rejoined the world of The Color Alchemists with book two, it felt like coming home.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed these characters.  I am so invested in their lives, and Walker does a great job of developing them even more in this book.  Their relationships feel real and complicated, and gave me such a huge range of emotions.  I literally screamed at my book at one point.  We get the addition of Sasha’s perspective in this book, which was set up really well in the ending of the last one.  I loved learning more about the resistance and the rest of the world (Hey female American president!), and her love interests were really great.  There was a ton of action throughout, and the whole story was engaging and exciting.  Jessa and Lucas’s dynamic is both heart warming and frustrating at the same time.  Their relationship goes through a lot in this book, and I am anxious to see where it is going to go from here.  The more I learn about color magic, the more I love it.  I think it is a totally brilliant idea, is really well done, and continues to develop into a deeper system of magic.  I think I enjoyed Fracture even more than Prism… I cannot wait for book 3!

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Reading Challenges

2018 A to Z Reading Challenge

img_20170922_204343_001000Ok. I’m not normally a reading challenge girl (I can’t handle the pressure), but when I saw this one from Ginger Mom, I knew I had to join.  It seemed fun and exciting, but actually doable.  The goal is to read and review one book for every letter of the alphabet, and every review is worth 1 point.  Each point is worth an entry to the Grand Prize at the end of the year, which is a $100 Amazon gift card! How awesome is that!? So here we go folks. The 2018 A to Z Challenge!

A

B

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

C

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

D

Daisy Jones by Mack Mama

E

Emma by Jane Austen

F

Fracture by Nina Walker

G

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

H

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I

J

K

L

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

M

Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

N

O

The Oathing Stone by JZN McCauley

P

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Q

R

S

Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane

T

U

V

W

We Other by Sue Bentley

X

Y

Z

Who else is doing this challenge? Anyone have ideas for the harder letters? Let me know in the comments! Happy Reading!