Review | The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 432

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm.

When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.


“Once there was a girl who was drawn to wicked things.”

Beautifully detailed and rich in storytelling, Kristen’s Ciccarelli’s The Last Namsara will compel even the most jaded fantasy lover. It reminds me why I take chances on stories.

I have heard a lot of great reviews from several book bloggers, but I was still hesitant buying this book. I don’t always take risks with new authors, but Last Namsara has been sneaking up on my TBR list for awhile now, so I took the plunge. And I cannot believe I waited this long to read it.

One of my hesitations is the fact that Asha—the claimed Iskari, who brings pain and heartache to the world—is a dragon killer. Dragons have always charmed me since I was young. So hearing that she kills them didn’t sit well with me. However, this story is brimming with betrayal, politics, hidden pasts, enchanting history, and human strength. Kristen captivates you from the first sentence. Her writing appealed to me quite early on in the book. And one strong aspect of this book is the storytelling.

Asha lives in a world where legends bring fear to the people of Firgaard, stories are forbidden and outlawed, and wickedness governs over all. Asha—who is disfigured by the feared Kozu, the first dragon—swears she will rid her world of these beasts. She must. Years ago, she befriended Kozu, and when the old stories killed her mother, and her city almost perished, she feels it’s her duty and her penance. I first thought I wouldn’t like her. But her inner power made me love her more. She isn’t afraid to show her scars. And while she’s defiant by telling the old tales to lure the dragons out, I’ve gained a lot of respect for this character.

I was hoping for more stronger secondary characters in this high fantasy. Dax, Asha’s brother, doesn’t jump out at me as much as I wanted him to. Her father, the dragon king, stays more in the background. Two characters stick out from the rest though: Jarek and Torwin. Jarek is the commandant and Asha’s betrothed, and he uses his position as a way to intimidate and control her. And his brutality cements his place in this wicked city. Torwin, Jarek’s slave, brings out something in her. I loved reading their banter and their relationship evolution.

Now Kristen plays with the hierarchy in society. You see a clear divide between the rich and the lower caste. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how it opens up this cruel world. You don’t witness a lot of world building until the latter half of the book though. So I hope to see more of that in the next books.

If you’re a Throne of Glass, And I Darken, and An Ember in the Ashes fan, you’ll easily fall in love with this book. Don’t hesitate like I did. Go read this book!

“Then may Death send his worst. Cold to freeze the love in my heart. Fire to burn my memories to ash. Wind to force me through the gates. Time to wear my loyalty away. I’ll wait for you at Death’s gate.”

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Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Published by: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Indigo Teen

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away-by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began-and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


I won this book from an Indigo Teen’s giveaway, which doesn’t affect my review. Thank you, Indigo Teen and the author.

 

“I remembered less from my own life than I did from the books I read.”

With dark and beautiful storytelling, Melissa Albert introduces you to an eerie fairy tale. The Hazel Wood is a good start to a well-thought-out series. And as much as I wanted to fall in love with the lush writing, I couldn’t. This Alice in Wonderland retelling doesn’t quite capture my imagination.

I truly wanted to like it more. But while reading, I felt that the story dragged on for more than half the book. And once you get to the Hazel Wood and Hinterland, the storyline fractures into pieces that I found too distracting. I knew this book threw off a lot of readers who thought it’s not set in our modern world. So thankfully, I knew that coming into Hazel Wood.

I hate writing negative reviews. So much work goes into creating a book. And I have to give respect where it is due. Melissa beautifully creates a spooky world. And her writing draws you into her storytelling. You see her dedication to her craft. But I didn’t build a connection to the story or the characters. And I was expecting more world building in this kind of novel.

Alice has survived from one bad situation to the next. She never seems to find good luck in her life. As she and her mother live on the road, Alice has always been fascinated by her grandmother, who wrote the infamous Hinterland. I wanted to like this character, and while I loved her sarcasm, I felt that she puts herself and others into certain circumstances that she can’t get out of. She can easily prevent this problem from occurring, but she doesn’t stop to think what the consequences will be before doing said action.

Now I had my doubts about Ellery Finch, a fan and collector of Hinterland. I thought I couldn’t trust him, but I was wrong. Surprisingly, I enjoyed his character later in the story, and I think he might be the reason why I’d read the sequel.

If you’re looking for a peculiar and strange take on Alice in Wonderland, then The Hazel Wood should be your next read. While I loved the design of the book, the fairy tales in Hinterland itself, and several secondary characters, I feel that Hazel Wood may not the book for me. But the storytelling makes up for some of my disappointments. With her writing, Melissa will surprise you.

“And while they’re being told, stories create the energy that makes this world go. They keep our stars in place. They make our grass grow.”

Review | The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Published by: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 320

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Love is an enchantress—devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.

Hell has no fury than witches hell-bent on revenge. Shea Ernshaw’s debut novel The Wicked Deep is just as enchanting as it is haunting. For days to come, I’ll be mourning over this poignant and heartbreaking tale.

I will always have a penchant for witch stories. Witches have created the foundation of my love for fantasy books. Unfortunately, they’ve lost their luster over the years, but Shea will remind you why lore of witches is the backbone of a great novel. She’ll remind you why you love them.

I find writing this review hard. I’m an emotional reader even though I don’t like admitting that fact. And this beautiful and eloquent debut novel tore at me, and reading it took much longer than I thought it would. The Wicked Deep ensnares you, wraps around your heart, then rips it out, and all the while, you still have a smile on your face. I needed breaks while reading it.

Sparrow, Oregon is haunted by witches. In the 19th century, whether they’re witches or not, three sisters—Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel Swan—who charmed the men of the town lost their lives when they were convicted of witchcraft and drowned for their crimes. And every year since, they torment the town by possessing the daughters who then, in turn, drown the sons. When an outsider, Bo Carter, wanders into town, Penny Talbot knows she must protect him even if the both of them are hiding secrets.

This town is perched on the edge of tragedy and revenge. The sisters’ death is woven throughout the fabric of the town as the residents and tourists flock to the water’s edge to celebrate the Swan season, the time when the sisters return. The Wicked Deep depends on the folklore of the town. Shea doesn’t incorporate a lot of world building, but Sparrow itself is a character that walks within this story. She injects an atmospheric tone that delivers a morbid and eerie storyline, one I haven’t seen in awhile. But what I enjoyed is the characters though.

Penny is an outcast who cares for her mother, who mourns over the disappearance of her father. She’s content with her life even if her friend wants her to leave. But Bo changes everything for her. They both complement each other. Their relationship is built on delicate layers of lies, hasty trust, and intense yet rushed attraction. But I would prefer for a better set up though. It has an insta-love feel, which leads to the story’s predictable climax. I was hoping to see more of the sisters though, but Shea does include flashbacks to the past.

I could rave about Shea’s writing for days. She’s has a wonderful talent that I hope to see more of. And I’m counting down the days to her next story. The Wicked Deep is a captivating novel steeped in whimsical lore. It will take you on an emotional journey that may surprise you. I recommend this as your next read. Sparrow will capture you just as much as it has me.

But how do you let yourself unravel in front of someone, knowing your armor is the only thing keeping you safe?

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Published by: Little, Brown Books

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 370

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.

I don’t usually find a book that renders me useless when writing its review. But Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince does all that and more. I struggle writing it because I wonder how I can possibly match the level of creativity in this book. I certainly hope so, but let’s get one fact straight: I am an instant Holly fan. And I want to go back to Elfhame.

Political power plays, deception, and betrayal beautifully introduces you to a wicked and depraved world where deceitful acts are a way of life in Faerieland, and you must be brutal to survive this magnificent yet threatening landscape.

Holly brings you complex and multi-faceted characters who outwit their enemies and betray their family. What do you expect from the fae? In this harsh world though, humans are sometimes no better than the faeries who trap them in Faerieland.

Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting, and I can’t stop.

Jude—whether villain or heroine—adapts rather well even though the fae man who brought her and her sisters killed their parents in front of them. Forced to live in this surreal land, she lets her revenge guide and forge her into a warrior, and her ambition to never be weak again shapes her into a clever and devious main character. She kept me guessing her every move. And her development and scheming make this book captivating.

Cardan, the broken prince with a past to hide, surprises me. Yes, at first, I couldn’t stand how he treats Jude and her twin sister, Taryn. But this world has molded him into the wicked prince he is. But that reason is not an excuse though. And yet this character conceals more than what he shows though. I’m intrigued to see how his character development unfolds.

The family dynamic builds throughout the story. Taryn often warns Jude not to offend or to draw attention from any of the fae, especially from Cardan. The three sisters’ relationship is rather complicated, I find though. Vivienne, the oldest sister who is half-fae, infuriates me since she doesn’t shield her siblings from her world. But these siblings grow to love General Madoc, which murdered their loved ones. In the end, Jude wonders who she can trust. Will blood betray her, or will she be forced to deceive them?

Even though Holly’s writing is inspiring, it never stops you from seeing the seedy underbelly of the fae and their land. The vicious behaviour faeries show toward humans harshly contrasts against the elegance of this world. Holly reminds you that even though they are stunning, with a smile on their face, they’ll always find a way to slit your throat. This constant threat heightens the storyline. And I have to admit, that I love that.

With court and political intrigue, a budding dark romance, and atmospheric writing, Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince reveals the dark side of Faerie. It is one of the most gratifying books I’ve read in a long time. And now I’m counting down the days until I have The Wicked King in my hands.

Waiting on Wednesday | The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, is a weekly meme that showcases upcoming book releases readers are eagerly awaiting.

 

The Wicked Deep

Shea Ernshaw

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

Why Am I Waiting?

I haven’t done this meme in a long time, but Wicked Deep has drawn my attention since I first heard of it back in October. The marketing for this book is clever. The publisher dubs it as “Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials.” Yeah, you know I can’t pass up the book now. I’ve been hoping to find a great witch story, but I haven’t seen many around. However, The Wicked Deep changes all that though. I’m interested to see how Shea incorporates folklore with the Salem Witch trials.

Also, you can get a deluxe edition from Indigo and Amazon (Canada and US)! Don’t miss out on it.

Monthly Wrap-Up | January 2018

 

Hey book nerds!

As you can tell, I’ve redesigned some of my blog graphics. And I’ve combined the reading round-up and book haul posts into one, which is more easier to handle. I hope to revamp my entire blog, including my name (about time I can do that). Last year I struggled to keep up with some posts and just kept pushing things off, but I want to stay on top of my blog, so I’ll be scheduling much more this year.

Last month wasn’t that eventful, but I had the opportunity to jump on several blog tours and finish a few books that have been waiting on my TBR list. So here they are:

 

I was trying to catch up on my TBR pile since a particularly nasty cold hit me hard in December. So even though I wanted to read more, I could only get to four books in January.

 

 

Warcross by Marie Lu

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I haven’t read any of Marie’s previous work, and right now, I feel like I missed out on great writing. Warcross surprised me, and I instantly fell in love with this virtual reality clashing with reality.

I highly recommend this book.

 

Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge

⭐⭐⭐¾

I’m always down for a witch story. For the past couple of years, I’ve steered clear of them because I’ve read too many that just blended in to each other. Just picture the sweetest bakery with a high dose of magic, and you have Deadly Sweet. I’m interested to see what Lola has in store for the sequel(s).

 

Rise by Sierra Cross

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another witch book in one month? Really? Don’t worry. This story didn’t disappoint either. But this adult one has the sexual tension cranked high.

 

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Surprisingly, as a Batman fan, I wasn’t sure how this book might stand up to the other stories and back history of the character, but Marie truly doesn’t disappoint DC fans. There are slow scenes that may detract from the storyline, but just hold on though. You’ll get your action soon enough.

 

You can find my review posts linked in the titles above.


I didn’t buy a huge lot in January. There weren’t many books that interested me. But a few caught my eye, and I couldn’t pass up on snagging them. I’ve already read two, and I can’t wait to read my first Holly Black book.

 

 

 


What caught your eye last month? Why don’t we catch up in the comments’ section!

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Everless by Sara Holland

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.


What if the person to be feared is me?

 

Sara Holland’s debut novel will transport you to a dark and twisted world where people pay with time. This eloquent and beautiful story enchants, surprises, and shows you that Sara possesses a raw talent YA readers have been waiting for.

Jules Ember, along with her father, left her life in Sempera, a ruthless kingdom where the elites, the Gerlings, extract time from the poor so that they will prolong their own lives. As she discovers her father is dying, she decides to find her way back to this city where she was forced to leave because of a deadly secret. But as time reigns supreme, she uncovers secrets that may threaten her and the people she loves.

Sara has amazed me with her writing, storytelling, and world building. I don’t always find a YA that keeps me hooked and makes me want more once I’ve finished reading. But Everless does just that. I actually need the sequel. She hauntingly portrays how cruel this kingdom is. And the originality of her storytelling impresses me. I rarely say that about a debut author. She sets up Everless as a slow burn with hints of romance and some action injected in periodically. And I must say that Everless reminds me why I love YA.

Sara weaves together the past, present, and future into this spellbinding fantasy filled with political games and deceit. Time is currency, and you will discover that the rich always thrive, and the poor suffer. She brings a realism to her book by introducing a two-tiered society. The poor will give up their remaining years, which is extracted from their blood and turned into currency, so they can feed their families or pay the rent. What strikes me the most is how the aristocrats, who hoard these time coins or devour them to lengthen their lives, are often oblivious to the consequences of this currency. The parallels between this realm and our own society leap off the page.

This atmospheric YA also offers some treats. The mythology is the highlight of the story, as it guides the narrative along. And as the story progresses, I fell in love with these multi-dimensional characters. Poverty has shaped Jules into who she is, yet her quiet demeanor draws you in. I often find the quietest voice to be the loudest. The two Gerlings brothers, Roan and Liam, are polar opposites. I do not trust Roan though. Yet Liam, the brother Jules originally fears, is the hidden gem I surprisingly like. The relationship between Jules and Ina Gold, the Queen’s ward, is outright refreshing. They both love Roan, yet they aren’t fighting each other to win his love.

Everless unsettles yet allures you. Secrets, plot twists, deception, and hidden family history shape this debut novel into a stunning and compelling series. I cannot wait to see how Sara concludes it.

 

It’s possible to feel joy and grief at the same time. It’s possible to look forward to the horizon while mourning what you’ve lost.

Review: Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Superheroes

Page Count: 272

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
The city’s elites are being taken out one by one as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is about to become eighteen and inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he loves. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice and is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most nefarious criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
The most intriguing inmate in Arkham is Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?

In this second DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer–Bruce Wayne is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero, but can he survive this game of tense intrigue, pulse-pounding action, and masterful deception?


You have a heavy heart, for someone with everything.

Mystery and intrigue? Indeed. Foreshadowing? Mhm. Thrilling suspense that keeps you guessing? Absolutely. Just the right amount of sexual tension? Hell, yes. Did you say Batman? Now you’ve got my attention. I knew I had to read this YA once I heard Marie Lu was writing a Batman origins story.

After being sentenced with community service for interfering with an investigation, Bruce Wayne finds himself an intriguing proposition: help the GCPD learn more of Arkham’s newest killer, Madeleine, a member of the Nightwalkers, who are terrorizing the city’s high society. But she’s the enigma Bruce can’t quite solve. And he’s the only person she’ll talk to. But will he uncover the truth in time to save not only the Gotham elites but also himself?

Marie’s interpretation of this well-told tale of Batman will satisfy dedicated DC fans. And Marie won’t disappoint by introducing twists and surprises that will surely entertain YA lovers. She captures the essence of Batman and Gotham, from the gritty streets to the shadows lingering among and within the people. She reminds me why I love this character and the city.

Batman: Nightwalker is purely a character-driven novel. But the author injects the proper dose of fast-paced action that fans of the Caped Crusader expect and demand. No, any author won’t get every rendition right. It’s the writer’s personal image of the character. However, she does both Batman and Gotham City justice. Marie kept me questioning the motive of every character, and I had to stay on my toes to keep up with the story. But I love getting that feeling from stories though.

Darkness speaks to darkness. Bruce feels a pull toward Madeleine. She’s walked through the dark, and she’s changed into something else, just like him. I feel that she’s a worthy opponent for this bat boy turning into Gotham’s Dark Knight. If a character stumps me, then you’ve created a captivating one. Bruce lives in the shadow of his parent’s deaths. But he also sees how his parents shielded him from the backstreets of this dangerous city. That threat always existed, but now he’s willing to see it.

Nightwalker doesn’t suffer from a lack of world building, which Marie easily creates in this short novel. I was worried she might not accomplish that. But some of the pacing seems too slow for me. Yes, she builds up suspense but doesn’t give long action scenes to make up for that issue. And I first thought the Nightwalkers are your run-of-the-mill, predictable adversary with a dark Robin Hood-esque motive. But Marie changes it up and throws in ample surprises that made me love the story more.

Batman: Nightwalker is a solid supehero read. It keeps just enough suspense to keep this Batman nerd pleased. Marie’s writing keeps you engaged, and the storyline and characters capture you. If you’re a fan of Bruce, you might want to add this addition to your collection.

 

Fear clears the mind. Panic clouds it.

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge

 

Deadly Sweet (Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

Published by: Ink Monster LLC

Publication date: January 16, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Page Count: 270

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: eARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with rejection letter after rejection letter.

Desperate to escape her dead-end future, Anise contacts the long-lost relative she’s not supposed to know about. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl.
The Spellwork Syndicate rules the local witches in Taos, but as “accidents” turn into full-out attacks on Anise’s life, their promises to keep her safe are less and less reassuring. Her cranky bodyguard is doing his best, but it’s hard to fight back when she has no idea who’s the enemy. Or why she became their target.
If Anise can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brûlée.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author/publisher for providing the eARC.

 

With a cup of sugar and a heavy dose of magic, Deadly Sweet will entice your inner sweet tooth. So get your sweatpants and your candy ready. You’re in for a fun and delicious time.

Anise Wise lives in a world where society knows of the supernatural world, and no one will accept her because she’s a witch. She finally gets her chance to prove herself when her great aunt offers her a chance to be an apprentice at the bakery in Taos, New Mexico. But as she settles in, her life is threatened by an unknown force. And her dream of becoming a baker may just have a higher price than her she thought: her life.

I’m not surprised to learn that the author is a baker herself. From the first chapter, you see the passion Lola has for not only her writing but also her baking. She makes me want to find the nearest bakery and splurge on sweet delights. Deadly Sweet is an easy and entertaining read. Lola weaves together both magic and baking and creates an interesting beginning to her new urban fantasy series, the Spellwork Syndicate.

Witch-centred series can go either way: strong women guiding the next generation or power-hungry ones who refuse to bend. I can see the start of the former. I love the matriarchy in this book. It’s a refreshing feeling to see woman supporting and protecting other women and girls. And that aspect to the book builds a solid foundation for this series. You don’t see women insulting others. They are there to protect, love, support, and grow together. More importantly, they are a family. And you can’t imagine how happy I was when Anise first arrives.

Lola presents appealing characters who are growing into their own. You see their strengths, weaknesses, and fears. Anise is a strong-willed witch who isn’t afraid to walk into danger. But this strength has a downfall though. She often doesn’t see that danger until it threatens her life and others around her. She needs some developing, but she is a relatable and, dare I say, an authentic character who wants to find who she is.

The first instalment in this series has a touch of mystery to it. You go along with Anise as she finds out who is out to get her. And even if the antagonist is predictable and not strongly developed, I enjoyed reading her story. I was hoping for more world building. There are too many unanswered questions. And while the author’s world is engaging, I wanted a bit more from this paranormal life.

If you’re looking for an engaging witch story and craving your next cupcake, Deadly Sweet will entertain you. I’m interested to see where Anise goes from here.


Author’s Bio

Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.

Author’s Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 


Giveaway

This giveaway is a tad different from other book tours. In this one, you get the chance to win a a Deadly Sweet prize pack and a Treat House 12 pack. If you’re looking for yummy treats, ENTER HERE.

 


Tour Schedule

Don’t miss out on this tour. Check out the other reviews and posts here:

January 15th
Kindle and Me >> Guest post
It’s a Book Life >> Review
Belle’s Book Blog >> Review
Stuffed Shelves >> Review

January 16th
Butterfly-o-Meter Books >> Guest post
Book Reviews Express >> Review
Novels & Necklaces >> Review
Adventures in Writing >> Review

January 17th
Girls With Books >> Excerpt
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review
Novelties >> Review
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review

January 18th
Booker T’s Farm: Books & Nails & Puppy Dog Tales >> Review
Whatever You Can Still Betray >> Excerpt
Bibliobibuli YA >> Guest post
Rabid Reads >> Interview
Touch My Spine Book Reviews >> Review

January 19th
The Avid Reader >> Review
A British Bookworm’s Blog >> Review
Desert Rose Reviews >> Review
Dani Reviews Things >> Interview
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Review

 

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: September 12, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Page Count: 353

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem…and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.


“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”

Sometimes you find that one book that simply changes everything for you. It excites you, scares you, shakes you up, then surprises you. With power plays, hidden character motivations, impressive storytelling, and a stellar cast, Warcross won’t disappoint. Virtual meets reality in this lush YA sci-fi. So listen up nerds: you need to read this book.

Virtual reality has swept the world, all because of a video game called Warcross. People now live and breathe it, like Emika Chen. The odds stacked against her, she hacks into the opening games, but she accidentally glitches herself in. Instead of prosecution, she receives a job offer from the game’s creator. But being a spy may prove more dangerous than she thinks. She soon reveals a plot that may threaten every player involved, including herself.

My little inner nerd is tingling. Tingling. I haven’t been this giddy about a book in a long time, and I’m still riding the high. I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting this. This multidimensional storyline will hook you in the moment you start reading. I do not possess a single complaint about it. And I don’t see a flaw (do you know how rare that is for me?). Marie effortlessly guides you through the bright and rich streets of real and virtual Tokyo, dazzles you with this highly imaginative game, and makes you fall in love this futuristic world. You feel as if you’re in Warcross. You can just reach out and touch it.

Characters are the foundation of this book. I cannot help but love the diversity here. You not only get an Asian MC but also see disabled, lgbtq+, flawed, and utterly relatable characters as well. What I love the most is that the author doesn’t force the diversity. It flows naturally.

Emika, the rainbow-haired hacker, captures your attention. Her pain seeps through. She has lost her father and may lose everything else when Hideo Tanaka, creator of Warcross, offers her the position as spy. I relate to her immediately. Her determination to survive adds to the complexity of the story. And once she connects with her team, her development grows tenfold. Hideo is harder to read. He creates a universe no one has seen before, but his past haunts and controls him.

The game itself is a close second to the characters. You get a mix of an augmented reality game like Pokémon GO with a dose of the movie Gamer. Warcross demonstrates how easy our society depends on electronics and our need to stay connected to the online world. I love how Marie subtly includes that fact in her writing. The story is more believable that way. Marie also addresses the underbelly of both the real and the cyber world. This world building opens up the opportunity for readers to see the dangers the lush game has to offer. Even though Warcross is artificial, it is founded in reality. Corruption and a faulty justice system already create a seedy landscape and confirms that our society is flawed.

Warcross surpasses my expectations. It captivates gamers and nongamers alike. It shows how humanity has changed because of our obsession with the digital world. And somehow along the way, it gives you a glimpse of that humanity in a girl who has nothing to lose. I don’t just want the sequel, but I need it.