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Fantasy YA

Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

Summary

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating:

purple4

(4.25 stars)

Hey everyone! I’m finally back with another review, this one being on Roar by Cora Carmack! After hearing a lot of buzz about it from other bloggers, I thought I’d give this book a go, especially seeing how I want to read more Fantasy at the moment. And while at first, I was a bit letdown by the book, it picked up very quickly, and kept me interested throughout (except near the end, which was when I realized it was ending on a cliffhanger…😬).

In terms of the plot, I really liked how the trouble progressed. The plot just got a whole lot interesting after Aurora finally took initiative on her life. Plus, the amount of world building that went into this novel made it amazing! I loved all the bits and pieces of information given to readers in between chapters, whether it was in the form of poems, religious text, stories, journals, etc. It gave the sense that there was more to the world than what even the characters were experiencing within the book.

In the case of characters and their development, I thought that the novel set it up pretty well. It was told in multiple POVs, so readers would get moments from a lot of different characters, from teasing backstories to current events. I just wish we’d get a bit more from other characters, like Sly or Jinx. Maybe in the next book? Anyways, I liked how the POVs would switch off, showing off those bits of character development and surprises without stretching it too thin…

Overall, I had a great time reading this book! The only reason I wouldn’t give this a 4.5 star or even a 5 star rating was that I was able to put it down at one point and kind of didn’t feel the need to read it as much. Well that’s all I have to say about Cora Carmack’s Roar for now. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the section below. Take care, everybody!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

Blog Tour: Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine (Review)

About the Book

secrets-of-skin

Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine

Published on June 5th, 2017

Published by Entangled Teen

Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

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Review

My rating:

red3-5

Hi, everyone! It’s time for another review, with this one being on the newly released Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine. The reason I was so interested in this book was the gargoyle aspect. I’ve only read only one series about gargoyles and that was Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Elemental trilogy. I wanted to see what more the world of gargoyles can offer since I’m not too used to it yet.

Speaking of the story’s world building, I hate to say it but wasn’t too excited by it. There were just some things that puzzled me, like the idea of fiends. I wasn’t too sure on what they were, only that they were evil and Watchers had to kill them to rid the world of their evil. Also, I wanted to know more about Watchers and their mythology. For instance, how many were there in the world? Do they have a secret organization themselves? If I dug too deeply, I’d be left with more questions than answers.

The thing that had me going though was the plot. I was invested in what was going on, like the mystery surrounding the town and its inhabitants, especially Piper. I really, really wanted to know why someone would want to target Piper. I also thought that as a whole, the novel developed at a pretty good pace. I didn’t think that anything was too sudden or out of the blue, although there were moments where continuity failed to happen. However, the near-ending still had the power to surprise me! The ending itself wasn’t nearly as good!

As for the characters, I really liked our protagonists, Piper and Gris, the best. They seemed to work really well together romantically, and you can actually buy them being a couple of adorably lovestruck fools! Maybe it was the fact that they weren’t afraid to call each other out on things. Maybe it was their witty banter. Either way, you could tell from the getgo that they were OTP and not in a forced way, too!

Well, that’s all I have to say about Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine. I really enjoyed reading this book on an entertainment level, but still had trouble with it in other ways. If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, please leave them in the Comments Section below. For those of you who are interested, Secret’s of Skin and Stone is out today and you can find it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBooks|Kobo

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

About the Author

WendySparrow-1sm-759x1024.jpg

Wendy Laine is the penname of author Wendy Sparrow. Writing is in Wendy’s blood as are equal parts of Mountain Dew and chocolate. Wendy has been telling tales since she was a child with varying amounts of success. Her parents clearly anticipated her forays into the paranormal because she heard “The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ over and over. She lives in Washington State with a wonderful husband and two quirky kids and is active in Autism and OCD support networks. She can usually be found on Twitter where she’ll talk to anyone who talks to her and occasionally just to herself.

Author links: Website|Blog|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook|Newsletter

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Book Bargain: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that the eBook version of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is available for $2.99 only! You can buy a copy via Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks! I really, really liked this book and cannot wait for the sequel, One Dark Throne! 😉

–  Sumaya

Review: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Blurb

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating: red1.5

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being on Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean. First off, I’d like to say that I’m really sorry to NetGalley in terms of wishing for this book, even though later on I realized I had no interest in it. I avoided it as much as possible afterwards, and didn’t even request it (at least, I’m pretty sure I didn’t, since this was a wish granted). But then my wish came back to haunt me and I thought,”Well, I might as well read it.” So I did. And at first, the book seemed really great. But then it went downhill from there…

As I said, in the beginning, the book was a treat to read! I liked the way I felt like I related to Maren, being sent over seas to new relatives you didn’t even know, learning customs that made you feel kind of out of place. I also really liked the mysterious vibe added once Maren learns more about her parents’ past. But then Gavin came along and ruined everything! Once he got on the scene, I felt as if the storyline suffered. Maren wouldn’t be seen interacting with her friends as much to the point where I wouldn’t even call them friends (more like acquaintances). Or she wouldn’t think of herself in such a great light, thinking that if he didn’t like her, it was all her fault, even at times when Gavin clearly states that the fault is his! Plus, with Gavin there, Maren doesn’t have as much chance to be a hero, with him saving her all the time! I get that he’s otherworldly, but come on! Maren shouldn’t have to be such a damsel in distress because she has an otherworldy being on her side! And then there was the fact that the instalove is way too much for me in this book! It was extremely unbelievable, so much so that I cringed every time they were together.

Also, the plot seemed really unorganic to me. I felt that they were sacrificing some serious tension and suspense by just by explaining things right off the bat, not making the protagonist or the reader work for them. I don’t want to read exposition that’s lazily put in there just so that the story can move along. Overall, I felt as if the story could have been really something, but a lot of the potential, both in the character development and plot, was lost…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and has certainly taught me to be really careful with wishing on NetGalley, just as much as you have to be careful of requesting books that you’d like as well. I think that this might be a good fit for Twilight fans though, even if I didn’t like it… If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Take care, everyone! And keep reading!

–  Sumaya

Blog Tour: True Born Trilogy by L.E. Sterling (True Born Review)

About the Book

True Born by L.E. Sterling

Published on May 3rd, 2016

Published by Entangled Teen

Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood. 

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Review

My rating: purple3

Hi again! Hope everyone is having a good week so far! In honour of the latest instalment of the True Born trilogy, True North, I’m here to review the first book itself! I’ve just finished reading True Born by L.E. Sterling, and even though I liked it overall, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It actually took me a while to finish it compared to most books I read, so maybe it had to do with that. However, I think my view of the characters and the way the exposition was handled had a lot to do with me liking the novel as well.

For instance, other than a handful of characters, I don’t think that anyone made a great impression on me throughout the novel. And that even includes our protagonist, Lucy. At times, I barely tolerated her, but there were a few moments where she caught my attention. Other than that, I also had a problem with her speech patterns because it was all over the place. Sometimes, Lucy would go from using prim and proper speech to talking regularly or in slang. And this isn’t just to different people, but in her thoughts as well. If she had stuck to one lane or the other, it would have been okay with me. But the mix in her dialogue and narrative was a bit jarring to read.

As for the exposition, while I know it’s needed for readers to gain context of the story’s world, at times it could be a bit too much, dumping information when readers could have been eased in. It felt odd at times, too, even random at one point. It’s probably why I was so slow reading this book in the beginning, because by the end of the novel, it was more fast-paced and easier to read.

The thing I liked about this book though was its world building. While the exposition surrounding Lucy and her sister Margot’s history wasn’t the greatest, the mythology surrounding the city of Dominion with a mix of science and magic was really cool. I liked seeing how that all fit together. That and learning about the Fox sisters’ puzzling DNA mystery was what made this book easier to read. It kept me going, wanting to know what would happen to them as well as what was happening to them. Overall, the book’s world building slightly redeemed the story, in my eyes.

Well, that’s all I have to say about True Born by L.E. Sterling. While I’ve got to admit that it wasn’t my favourites, it did hold an interesting appeal in terms of the world created between those pages. Hopefully this just sets the stage for book two! 😉 If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading, everybody!

–  Sumaya

About the Author

I was a voracious devotee of sci-fi and fantasy novels all through my childhood, so I suppose it doesn’t come as much of a shock that I’ve returned to the genre with a vengeance.

For a while I turned my back on the genre in favour of ‘high-brow’ literary texts. Ironically, it was my doctoral degree that saw me circling back. There’s something about the way postmodern literature plays with the arcane that had me utterly fascinated, and it wasn’t long until I fell headlong back into my old ways and haven’t looked back since.

My first novel, which isn’t in the Urban Fantasy or Fantasy genres, isn’t high literature, mind you, even if it tangles with some serious statements about politics and the way our western world runs. My editor described it as something between Charles Dickens and The Catcher in the Rye: Serious Fun, in other words.

My second novel, Pluto’s Gate, is where I’ve come home to myself: it’s a contemporary retelling of the Demeter-Persephone-Pluto story from Greek mythology. Folded into the mix is a Shaman-in-training, a magical book, Underworld Gods, a world covered in ice, a three-headed dog, and one lousy ex-boyfriend.

But I’ll tell you this much: I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our inner worlds. Whether the characters be vampires or vagabonds, a good narrative sucker punches so-called reality anyhow.

Author links: Website|Goodreads|Twitter

Excerpt

Read the first 6 chapters HERE

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

My rating:

blue4-copy

(3.75 stars)

Hello again! I’m back with another review and this one’s on Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It focuses on Scarlett, whose trapped under her father’s tyrannical rule along with her sister Tella, and has been waiting for her upcoming nuptials to escape him. Then, one day, she receives an special invitation to attend Caraval, a spectacular performance of a game where the audience has to participate in a contest in order to get the prize . This year’s prize is a wish, but in order for the participant to win the wish, they have to find the target of the game. This target turns out to be Tella, who is spirited away as soon as they reached the site of Caraval. Now, Scarlett, with the help of a rakish sailor,  must find her sister without being swept away by the magic that is Caraval.

This book is sure full of twists and turns! Throughout it all, I kept on second guessing the intentions of everyone in the book, including Scarlett. I had so many farfetched theories about Caraval – and still do! My main problem with this book though was with the instalove between our romantic pairing. This is just my bias, but I don’t like how they fell in love after knowing each other for such a short period of time. Especially when there’s an unfair disadvantage of one person knowing more about the other. It just rubbed me the wrong way, but that’s just my opinion on it… Also, I got kind of bored of it at times, and I’d notice myself skimming near the end, until that epilogue turned it around.

Scarlett herself is an interesting character, and I say that without any sarcasm. You can tell she has the potential to be an amazing heroine but limits herself in the beginning to the standards set by her father. Granted, anyone in her situation, shouldering responsibility for herself and her sister, would probably react the same way. So it was understandable that Scarlett just wanted to play things safe, even though she had that spark of adventure in her. She tempered that away in order to protect herself and sister from her father’s cruelty. There is an immense development within the book where Scarlett starts thinking more of what she wants in life rather than just wanting protection from her father or being a protector for her sister. Tella, on the other hand, remains a bit one dimensional. Mostly because it’s not in her perspective so we get Scarlett’s limited view of her. Also, I don’t see much of Tella since she is essentially kidnapped, so I never really got to know her as well as Scarlett. And from what I do know, it’s kind of off-putting. But then that epilogue made me more intrigued in Tella, so there’s that.  Overall, I loved the idea of the story centred around two sisters, but to be honest, it was more focused on Scarlett. Maybe the next book will be Tella-centric?

Well, that’s all I have to say about Caraval by Stephanie Garber. While it was a good read, it wasn’t as great as I anticipated. Have any of you read Caraval? What did you think of it? If you have any thoughts on Caraval, please leave them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: green4

(4.25 stars)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, everyone! Another day, another review! I’m really excited for today’s review since it’s on A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi!  A Crown of Wishes is the companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen and focuses on Gauri, Maya’s sister. In it, she has to compete in the Tournament of Wishes with a partner in order to obtain a wish to save her kingdom. Her partner turns out to be Vikram, a prince from an enemy kingdom who wants to be an actual leader to his people rather than just a puppet king. Along the way, they learn more about themselves- and each other- in a month’s time than they did in years. I’ll admit, I was mainly excited about this book because of how much I liked The Star-Touched Queen and was interested in what Roshani Chokshi wrote next. I wasn’t heavily invested in what happened to Gauri after the events of The Star-Touched Queen until I read A Crown of Wishes, where Roshani Chokshi made me fall in love with Gauri and a number of other characters as well!

Where to begin… How about  at the beginning and the fact that I loved it! During the first quarter of the book,  I was thinking to myself,”Five stars, five stars, five stars!” The writing quality was outstanding and very realistic (which was a slight problem when it came to food 😀 ), whether it was on imagery, recaps or a character’s thoughts and feelings. I think I take the writing style of a book for granted sometimes, but I could not ignore the stunning writing in this book that made it all the more enjoyable. 😉 I also really liked the set-up and how our main characters entered The Tournament of Wishes. The story flowed from there and to all the adventures they had along the way until they reached their destination in the Otherworld. Along the way, we’re given more information about the Otherworld as our protagonists travel to Kubera’s, the Lord of Treasures, Court and to the Tournament. If you’ve read my previous reviews on fantastic novels, you’d know that I’m  interested in the world-building and myth surrounding the novel just as much as the plot. I really enjoyed A Crown of Wishes’ world-building, not only because we’re already a bit familiar with some otherworldly beings, but so are our main characters. They might not know everything about the Otherworld, but they’ve learned enough to go by without flailing around about what to do. I think that’s my favourite type of fantasy, more immersive than portal quest.

What I loved most about this book though was that it was really consistent. The overarching theme was how dangerous desire was and you could see that in almost every section of the book. That makes the story even more awesome because the supposed goal is that they obtain a wish from Kubera’s tournament. What they learn while competing in the Tournament has the ability to change their whole perspective from what it once was. Then there was an emphasis all throughout the book about the importance of stories, how immortal and fluid they are, ever changing after multiple tellings. As a reader, I fully support the importance of stories and was glad to see that in here. 🙂

While there were some parts of the book where I got bored or didn’t fully grasp, especially at the end, I enjoyed reading A Crown of Wishes and thought that it was on the same level as The Star-Touched Queen, maybe even better since it got me interested from the getgo whereas The Star-Touched Queen was a bit slow in the beginning. Well, that’s all I have to say about A Crown of Wishes. If you liked The Star-Touched Queen, then you should go ahead and add this book to your TBR pile! 😉 If you have any thoughts or questions on A Crown of Wishes or The Star-Touched Queen, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. A Crown of Wishes comes out on March 28th, 2017 for those who are interested! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

My rating: black4.png

Hey, everyone! Just finished Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on it. It surrounds the magical island of Fennbirn and the triplet girls who are born to a queen every generation. Instead of a typical succession of age, once the triplets girls reach sixteen, these girls have to fight to the death in order to prove themselves worthy of the crown. At first, I was reading it more as part of the Book of the Month for a Goodreads group, even though I had it on my Fall TBR. I just thought that it would encourage me to read it even if I tire from it. But I’m glad that that wasn’t the case because I really enjoyed reading this novel!

While the plot itself did move pretty slowly, to the point where it was sometimes almost standstill, I think that it kind of makes sense. Since this is a trilogy having to do with the battle between these three sisters, the only way this would happen is that the plot was stretched out for as long as possible. I think that the author did the best she could in that case, by having lots of perspectives- not just of the sisters, but anyone connected to the sisters, for their own stories. And while the main story might have been slow, the book shows how the crowning affects everyone in the book. And it was really rewarding to read on only to find my theories about characters to be correct! 😉

The characters were incredibly interesting as well! I loved all three sisters and just wanted the best for them, maybe in the form of breaking whatever binds them to the island. I particularly enjoyed reading Arsinoe’s perspective but liked Mirabella’s and Katharine’s, too. Although, sometimes Katharine’s perspective doesn’t seem believable to me. Especially when she talks to Pietyr… Also, the additional characters like Jules, Joseph, and Billy only add to the story! It got me thinking about the people who are connected to the queen not merely as side characters, but characters of their own merit!

That’s all I have to say about Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake for now. If you enjoy reading books that are more character driven than plot, then I certainly recommend this book! Any comments or questions are welcome in the Comments section below. Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: green4

Hey, everybody! I just finished The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima and I’m kind of sad to say that… I should have read this book a long time ago! It was really good! The Demon King follows the perspective of Princess Raisa and Han Alister, a reformed thief. Both these characters battle the limited amount of choices their positions put them in and from them, readers get to see different perspectives of Fellsmarch (the capital) in order  to get the whole picture of what is going on in the queendom of the Fells.

At first, I felt like I couldn’t get into it. I was immensely bored and almost wouldn’t have continued reading the book. But after struggling for a few chapters, I finally got in the zone and started speed reading like nobody’s business! 😉 I really liked how Cinda Williams Chima chose to reveal certain pieces of information and even use the perspectives of our main characters by complimenting them in order to advance the story. Even though their stories do not seem as interconnected at first, it’s nice to see how the perpectives slide from one character to the other without ruining the story. In fact, in some cases, it’s such a smooth transition between their stories that it works out great! It’s just that as I got to the ending, I was more interested in what was happening and may have been guilty of skimming a couple of pages in order to find out… 😀

I was really impressed by Raisa, and not just by her character: stubborn, caring and a warrior at heart. What I was really impressed by was the fact that Raisa admits she has flaws. After reading The Great Hunt where the princess was pretty bland and proper in everything, it was nice to read someone who was more critical of herself and her surroundings. It’s also a plus that her time away from court helped her learn different skills other than the ones forced upon her by her mother, Queen Marianna as well as society. I just wish she listened to her instincts more!

And then there was Han! He was a real treat to read and I couldn’t help but get excited every time I’d get to his POV. He just has a certain charm about him, you know?  It’s not just Raisa that gets to be more complex than the average princess stereotype, but Han as well. Han is in between so many things during the book. He doesn’t want to cause trouble, but trouble seems to follow him no matter what. He wishes to be able and stay with his friends in the clan camp, but he also has a duty to his mother and sister as well. He’s more than what he seems and I can’t wait to see his development in the future!

That’s all I have to say about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. As much as would like to marathon this series (since I have The Exiled Queen ready at hand), I also really want to read another book! How about you? What are you reading this Friday? Hope it’s a great book! If you have any thoughts or questions about The Demon King feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a great weekend!

–  Sumaya

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