ARCs · Book Reviews

Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn Review

The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.

That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.

Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?

Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to D.N. Bryn for the opportunity*


This book was unlike anything I have read before. The story was told from the POV of Perle, a ferocious ocean siren, who has been captured by a cruel pirate captain and held in captivity. Their voice and view of the human world was extremely clever, vivid, spirited, and clear. I was immediately able to connect and empathize with them on many levels, and found their storytelling to be super creative and effective. In addition to our narrator, the rest of the cast of characters were diverse too, which made for great dynamics and relationships. Dejean was such an endearing character and the arc of his and Perle’s relationship was heartwarming and very well done. Captain Kian was a complicated and scary villain, and the fear she instilled in Perle was palpable. There was so much representation of all types in this book, which was beautiful and incredibly inclusive. Coming in at just under 230 pages, the plot of Our Bloody Pearl is fast paced, but it never felt rushed or underdeveloped, and was a very action-packed, quick read. The steam-punk world building was really cool and I would love to see more stories within it. This book was highly enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an inclusive, unique, seafaring fantasy.

ARCs · Book Reviews

War of the Twin Swords by Julia Godhirsh Review

On the night before her Choosing, there were whispers of war in the air.

After binding herself to Clarent, Opal is given a grim prophecy of her future. Alone and ostracized from her clan, she finds an unlikely ally in the sorceresses’ leader, Joan.

Joan is the reason the Sorceress clan wants to attack. She’s prophesied to pull Excalibur from its stone. But her clan wants its powers for a darker purpose.

They have to band together to stop the Sorceress clan’s invasion. Excalibur is on their side, but they’re outnumbered five to one. Can Opal escape this war unscathed?

Or will her prophecy come true?

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


This novelette is the start of a new series by Julia Goldhirsh called The Gem Stone Massacre series. At around 50 pages, it is a super quick read and a fast intro into this new world, billed as Merlin meets Once Upon a Time. The concept of this world, where the Enchantresses bind to a particular gemstone familiar to harness the gem’s powers, was fascinating to me and is an idea that has so much potential. The plot of this novelette is huge and full of action. Unfortunately because it was so short, all we got was the action. It almost felt like this was a summary of a larger novel. There was no chance for character or plot development and because of this, I found it hard to follow and care about what was happening. I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters or believe in their relationships. It’s a bummer because the world and the storyline are cool and exciting, and I think could develop into a pretty epic journey. I don’t know if the rest of the series are going to be full novels, or continue on as novelettes, but I really hope that they will be longer so that we can actually get into the meat of what has the bones to be a great story. Overall, I loved the idea and the plot, but I needed more depth to really bring the story and characters to life.

Tags

The Fantasy Book Tag

Hello everyone! Fantasy is probably my favorite genre to read. When I saw The Fantasy Book Tag over at ZeZee With Books, I knew I had to do it!


What is the longest fantasy series that you have ever read?

I think it’s probably The Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris coming in at 13 books.

Favorite fantastical setting or world.

I have to say The Wizarding World from Harry Potter.

Besides Harry Potter, what is your favorite fantasy book/series?

AHHHH this is such a hard question because I have SO MANY. I think as of right now as a whole, my favorite fantasy series is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

What fantasy book do you wish was more popular?

The Color Alchemist Series by Nina Walker! I loved this series and I feel like no one knows about it!

Your favorite villain.

Hmmm.. There are so many good options for this as well. The first one that really sticks out in my mind is Maven from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Such a well written and complex antagonist.

What’s the first fantasy book you have ever read?

Oh man. The first one I remember was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was 9 and I have vivid memories of finishing it in my 3rd grade class room and being so proud to have finished it by myself.

Your favorite Harry Potter book

Half-Blood Prince is my favorite. I love all of Voldemort’s backstory.

What is your favorite mythical creature?

I love fairies! And really anything Fae related.

Favorite female protagonist from a fantasy book?

Aelin from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. She is so flawed and real and I love her.

Favorite male protagonist?

Kvothe from Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. His arc is so epic and I really hope someday we get to find out HOW IT ENDS. GRRRRRR.


How would you answer these questions? Do you agree with my answers? Let me know in the comments! I tag anyone who is currently reading a Fantasy book! 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books My Roommate Recommends

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My roommate, Joey, and I are both book fanatics, and we love sharing and talking about our current reads.  He is a HUGE fantasy nerd, and last year he read 36 fantasy books alone.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from That Artsy Reader Girl was a freebie, so I decided to get Joey’s Ten Book Recommendations.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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I loved how weird and quirky it was.  I have never read anything like it.  The cast of characters is amazing and widely diverse.  As someone who predominately reads series, it was unusual for me to find a standalone that was so fulfilling (although I’m pretty sure Gaiman has a sequel in the works now).


The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

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Stephen King is one of the best authors out there and, in his own words, this series is his Magnum Opus.  It is literally perfect and brilliant.  There are no other words to describe it.


The Dragon Bone Chair by Tad Williams

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This book/series is just classic high-fantasy and is done in a way that doesn’t feel cliche.  There are also a ton of plot twists that really surprised me.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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I’ll be the first to admit that this book was an undertaking, and one I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish, but in hindsight it is an incredible book.  It is like if Jane Austen and Charles Dickens wrote a magical book together.  I loved the dynamic between our two main characters, as well as the system of magic in it.


The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

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This is such a classic fantasy series and provided inspiration for a lot of fantasy authors, and I don’t think you can call yourself an avid fantasy fan without having read this series.


Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice

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This book (and series) is my favorite take on vampires out there.  It has the most in depth and introspective look into the vampires psyche and how complicated it is to be one.  Also Lestat is dreamy.


Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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I rarely get to see a good love story between two men, and this is such sweet romance.  It was so nice for me to see that representation in a young adult novel.


Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

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A horrible, trashy, gay, fantasy series.  What more could you ask for?


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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I loved the system of magic in this series.  I thought it was super fresh and unique.  It also really didn’t shy away from the heroes’ dark pasts, which I appreciated as it gave them all more depth.  It was nice to see the protagonists not be so chivalrous.


The Silo Series by Hugh Howey

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It’s just another YA dystopian novel, nothing groundbreaking, but it is lesser known and just as well written as the more popular books of its kind.


Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Backlist Books I Want to Move Up the List

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I have been doing better on reading books from my backlist lately, but I still have a long way to go.  While I’m on tour next year, I plan to get through as many as I can.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is 10 Backlist Books I Want to Read, so here are the 10 books from my Backlist that I am moving up the list!

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A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon

I love the characters from the Outlander series so much, and I really need to continue on with it.  I’ve been putting it off for so long because I know it will be an undertaking at 980 pages, but what better time to invest in a long book than when constantly traveling?  Plus I already have it on my kindle.


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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

This is has been on my list since it came out.  I lent my copy to my dad and he lost it on vacation, so I’ve never gotten around to reading it.


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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I want to see what the fuss is about with this super hyped book, especially with the new one recently released.


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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I have just recently gotten back into contemporary YA romance, and this one has such a huge fan base.


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I really loved the Netflix movie, and now I want to read where it all began and then go on with the series!


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The Diviners by Libba Bray

I love Libba Bray, and I honestly don’t know why I haven’t started this series yet.  I just checked this first one out from the library so it’s next on the list!


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The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel

Another series that I have put on the back burner and really want to finish.  The copy of this book that I own is a a huge 760 page hardcover, so it hasn’t exactly been a good subway commuting choice.  I think I’ll get it on my kindle so it will be easier to travel.


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Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time, and I still haven’t read this yet.  It’s about time, and I’m in the mood for a Cabot fix.


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City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling

I found this while browsing on my kindle and purchased it years ago.  It’s time that I get to reading it.


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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in elementary school, but for some reason never continued on with the series.  It is such a fantasy staple, that I feel like it’s about time that I read it.

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Netgalley Review: Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

36426163Summary:  A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

My Thoughts: What a cool book.  As everyone knows, I love witches, so I snapped up the chance to read this collection of short witchy stories as soon as I saw it on Netgalley.  It is a collection of 15 short stories, all written by different women, involving magic, witches, and femininity.  The most amazing thing about this collection is the diversity.  Every story is vastly different from the one before, including the characters, writing styles, forms of magic, concepts, etc.  We got so much variety, and yet they all worked well together as a cohesive collection.  There were definitely some stories that I enjoyed and connected to more than others, but I think there is truly something for everyone in this collection.  My favorite stories were “The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord, “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” by Jessica Spotswood, and “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May.  “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” was so captivating, and I loved the system of magic and the plot of the story.  I could have easily read (and want) an expansion of this story into a novel.  “The Gherin Girls” I loved because of the sisterly relationship (I really connected to these characters) and the subtle, yet well developed magic in it.  “Why They Watch Us Burn” was an incredible way to end the anthology.  It was completely haunting, terrifying, and scarily relevant.  I rated each story with a star rating and then averaged them to get my overall rating for the collection and it came out to a solid THREE STARS, but some of these stories are worth so much more to me.  There was a quote from “Why They Watch Us Burn” that really resonated with me, and I’m sure will with a lot of women.  “The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power.  That’s why they watch us burn.”

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Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

ARC August Review: The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy

25781691Summary: 16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.

Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.


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

My Thoughts: I so wanted to love this book.  It had everything that I love about high fantasy, and yet something was missing.  This book moves fast.  Too fast.  There was never enough time to establish a scene or a relationship, and all of the action felt very rushed.  A lot happens in this book, and while the concept and plot are entertaining and engaging, I needed more development to become fully invested.  Because of the speed of events, I didn’t believe any of the relationships, be it friendly or romantic, and I wasn’t able to fully grasp the vast world in this book.  There was no relationship or character development, very little world building or explanation of the systems of magic in place.  As far as the characters go, I hated the heroine, Aurora.  She was weak, whiny, pathetic, and moronic.  I constantly wanted to scream at her when she would go do ANOTHER stupid thing, against all advice and common sense.  She constantly had to be rescued, which would have been fine if she grew from that and actually had a character arc, but she doesn’t really.  The rest of the characters were there to support and guide her, but all they did was tell her it was okay, and never gave her any resistance or ACTUAL support.  I think I would have liked the supporting characters more if we had more time to establish their depth.  I loved the idea of  her love interest, Rafe’s, character but all of a sudden she was in love with him with nothing behind it at all.  I can’t even call it insta-love.  One moment she has a crush, and the next she has madly fallen for him.  It just doesn’t make sense and there isn’t much to support their relationship.  There were some really nice moments in the plot, and the ideas had SO much potential.  It left off in a cliff hanger, and I admit that I am intrigued to see where the story is going to go.  I just wish that the development of the characters and events matched and supported the very exciting plot, because it has a lot potential to be an amazing story.

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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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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Want/Never Want to Live In

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Happy Top Ten Tuesday everyone! This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is Ten Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live In.  There are so many worlds that I want to be a part of and some that I love, but would never want to live in.  Mainly I just want to be magic.

Worlds I Want to Live In:

Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
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

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