Tag: magic

Book Review:  Little Thieves, by Margaret Owen

Image belongs to Macmillan.

Title:   Little Thieves
Author:   Margaret Owen
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself. 

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed. 

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Confession: I almost stopped reading this about 15 times in the first 20%. It just started out so slow, and Vanja just wasn’t a very likable person at all. Fortunately, she started learning and changing after that, so she became more tolerable. After that, I enjoyed this story immensely.

The setting was vividly wrought, and the culture was fascinating to me, with the mythology woven seamlessly in, adding depth and nuance to the story. In the end, this ended up being a fantastic read filled with magic, danger, and romance.

Margaret Owen grew up in Portland, Oregon. Little Thieves is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Luminous, by Mara Rutherford

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:   Luminous
Author:   Mara Rutherford
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

A witch who must learn to harness her power–or risk losing her loved ones forever. 

Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.

 To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos–and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.

I really loved Rutherford’s previous duology, but this just didn’t quite measure up for me. So many layers of lies and misinformation that I was never quite sure of the truth about core concepts from the world itself. I liked Liora herself, but the other main characters were inconsistent at best. Some bits felt clunky and uneven, and there was a bit of deus ex machina thrown in for good measure.

Mara Rutherford is from California. Luminous is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Requiem of Silence, by L. Penelope

Image belongs to St.Martin’s Press.

TitleRequiem of Silence

Author L. Penelope

Genre:  Fantasy

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Civil unrest plagues the nation of Elsira as refugees from their old enemy Lagrimar seek new lives in their land. Queen Jasminda is determined to push the unification forward, against growing opposition and economic strife. But the True Father is not finished with Elsira and he may not be acting alone. He has built a powerful army. An army that cannot be killed. An army that can only be stopped by Nethersong and the help of friends and foes of Elsira alike.

Former assassin Kyara will discover that she is not the only Nethersinger. She will need to join the others to harness a power that can save or end Elsira. But time is of the essence and they may not be ready by the time the True Father strikes.

Sisterhood novitiate Zeli will go to the reaches of the Living World to unlock a secret that could save the kingdoms. When armies meet in the battlefield, a new world will be forged. Whether by the hands of gods or men, remains to be seen

I’ve really enjoyed the Earthsea Chronicles series, and I’m sad to see it end. I love how all the cultures are blended together and explore their differences as well as their commonalities. The characters and settings are vibrant and detailed, and the storyline has been wonderfully explored in-depth, making this a series I highly recommend.

Leslye Penelope lives in Maryland. Requiem of Silence is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern, by Laura Rueckert

Image belongs to North Star Editions/Flux .

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

I enjoyed this read. Jiara’s struggles with reading were captured beautifully, and I felt all of her embarrassment and pain. Her attempts to learn the language of her new husband and home grounded the story and made it relatable, even amidst the magic and strange cultures and settings. This was a solid read for a debut novel.

Laura Rueckert grew up in Michigan. A Dragonbird in the Fern is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Mother of All, by Jenna Glass

Image belongs to Random House/Del Rey.

In the once male-dominated world of Seven Wells, women now control their own reproduction, but the battle for equality is far from over. Even with two thrones held by women, there are still those who cling to the old ways and are determined to return the world to the way it was.

Now into this struggle comes a darker power. Delnamal, the former King of Aalwell, may have lost his battle to undo the spell that gave women reproductive control, but he has gained a terrible and deadly magic, and he uses these new abilities to raise an army the likes of which the world has never seen. Delnamal and his allies seem like an unstoppable force, destined to crush the fragile new balance between men and women.

Yet sometimes it is possible for determined individuals to stem the tide, and it comes down to a unique triad of women–maiden, mother, and crone–to risk everything…not only to preserve the advances they have won but to change the world one final time.

I did not read the first book in this trilogy—not something that I recommend—but I was able to jump into book two without much problem. And, I very much enjoyed this book, the last in the trilogy. The magic system is unique as are the cultures and societies. Very strong female characters and some of the men are excellent characters as well—although some of them are total jerks. This is a solid fantasy read that I do recommend!

Jenna Glass has been writing since the fifth grade. Mother of All is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove, by Heather Webber

Image belongs to Macmillan-Tor/Forge.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted–so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

I enjoyed the magical realism in this story! The miscommunication/lack of communication between the characters causes all sorts of problems, but I really enjoyed the B&B setting and how the family worked out all their issues finally. This was a sweet, fun read, perfect for a summer weekend—especially at the lake.

Heather Webber lives new Cincinnati, Ohio. The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: What We Devour, by Linsey Miller

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.

I felt like I’d been dumped in the middle of a foreign county without a map, a dictionary, or the slightest understand of the culture or history. And, not in a “Hey, this place is cool!” way. The magic system was detailed—and unique enough—that I really couldn’t appreciate the story fully without some kind of background understanding. Same with the history and culture. Without understanding that the actual plot made little to no sense to me. Which made Lorena herself even more unlikable and unsympathetic. It’s too bad the solid writing was overshadowed by the confusion and dislike.

Linsey Miller grew up in Arkansas. What We Devour is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Image belongs to Tor Books.

TitleThe Beautiful Ones
AuthorSilvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre:  Fiction, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina — and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.

The Beautiful Ones is both magical and beautiful, with a Jane Austen-like feel for its also being a comedy of manners. Nina is a brave girl who stumbles as she enters a new world she doesn’t understand. Nina’s propensity to speak her mind and act without thinking gives her trouble at the hands of the elite of society, but her love for Hector gives her hope.

Hector is battling demons from his past, and his good intentions are often derailed at the hands of long-held dreams. The battles he faces are as hard as those of Nina, and the darkness threatens to overtake them both. I loved this book! Very different, with hints of steampunk twisted with a classical literary feel.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in Mexico. The Beautiful Ones is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleBlessed Monsters
AuthorEmily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen.

They broke the world.

And some things can never be undone.

I’ll admit, the blurb for this novel is a big sparse, but the novel itself is not. Like the rest of this trilogy, this is a very dark and fantastical story. Dark. Very dark. The cultures, the history, the people, are all brimming with life and magic and so vibrant they leap off the page.

But this is not a fluffy bunny story (and if there were any fluffy bunnies, they’d probably die a gruesome and tragic death immediately). Instead, it’s full of chilling sensory details (seriously, maybe read this on a hot summer day) and definitely read the other two books first. This is a compelling and engrossing novel, just don’t expect sweetness and light.

Emily A. Duncan is a bestselling author. Blessed Monsters is her newest novel, the final installment in the Something Dark and Holy series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Namesake, by Adrienne Young

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleNamesake
AuthorAdrienne Young
Genre:  YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

I have read—and loved—everything Adrienne Young has published, and I was so excited to read this. And it did not disappoint! I read it straight through in one siting, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next! Lots of action, intrigue, betrayal, adventure, and a bit of romance makes this unputdownable!

Adrienne Young is a bestselling author. Namesake is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)