Tag Archive | book review

Review: Bewitching Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Paranormal — by Cass Grix”


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Bewitching Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Paranormal

Author: Cass Grix

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Paranormal / 99

Summary: Fitzwilliam Darcy has never met a woman like Elizabeth Bennet. He finds her fascinating, irritating, compelling, inspiring, maddening, and absolutely beautiful. If he didn’t know better, he would think he was bewitched.

Bewitching Mr. Darcy is a Pride and Prejudice Variation, a paranormal novella.

Cover Review: I really love this cover! It’s gorgeous!

My review: I received a free copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review. So I’ll be honest: I have watched the Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice twice, the Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy twice, and I thoroughly enjoyed both films. But I’m definitely not a Jane Austen fangirl (are they called Janeites?) or anything. So, admittedly, I was a bit hesitant when Cass approached me with reading these novellas. But I decided to give this novella a shot, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

It was an absolutely charming (pun totally intended) novella! Cass provides a a refreshing and quirky take on a classic romance. And in case that isn’t enough to convince you, Cass’ writing style is absolutely beautiful. She is a masterful storyteller, and adeptly weaves the magical world with the muggl– erm, non-magical world. She crafts complex characters that I actually care about. I definitely like Bewitching Mr. Darcy better than the original Pride & Prejudice… I think that every story ever written can benefit from a healthy dose of magic.

In this novella, we’re introduced to a mostly hidden world of wizardry during a very formal and conservative time. Some wizards have “come out” and are publicly ridiculed for their delusional practices, but most wizards are, like Elizabeth and her father, secretive and subtle in their magic useage. What happens when the fiercely independent and self-confident Elizabeth Bennet decides that she wants to humble the arrogant and closed-off Fitzwilliam Darcy? Well, you’ll have to buy the e-book HERE to find out ;)

Content AdvisorySome kissing, etc. Nothing explicit. 

To Sum It Up: Bewitching Mr. Darcy  was fun and quick read. I loved this story, and I’m sure that other YA fans of Paranormal Romance would, too!  I highly recommend it to readers 12+.

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Review: Channel ’63 — By Bruce Edwards

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Channel ’63 (The Age of Amy, #3)

Author: Bruce Edwards

Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Fiction / 244

Summary: What if you could tune your TV to the year 1963, and watch—live? A new theme park attraction allows visitors to not only observe, but talk with the people of that turbulent decade. For 16-year-old Amy, it’s the perfect escape from her own time, and the hardships of teenage life in the 21st century.

Things get complicated when Amy falls for a teenage boy in the 60s. Trying to build a relationship across time proves maddening, especially when computers bleep any language that might impact the future. Happily, Amy acquires a “magic clicker” which defeats this annoying restriction. But gaining the ability to speak freely comes with a heavy responsibility: Amy now has the power to alter history!

Cover Review: It’s a very simplistic cover, but it’s not awkwardly posed clipart, which is more than you can say for most covers nowadays. I like it!

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Age of Amy is a morality play. A hyperbolic story. A cautionary tale. Everything in it — characters, plot lines, events — is exaggerated to teach a moral. It’s not supposed to be a story where you think “Wow! I really relate to that character and what they’re going through right now!” It’s one of those books that makes you think “Wow. Maybe I should re-evaluate that aspect of my life. …Okay, I’ve thought about it, I probably won’t change anything, but it’s a fun story anyway!” Kinda joking there, but it really does teach important lessons, in a very fun way. 

Personally, I found the endless 60’s references a bit tedious for my tastes. It was clear that the author was reliving his favorite era in the writing of this book. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, write what you know, etc., but it definitely didn’t captivate me, a 21st century teenager. The political agenda in this one wasn’t really my cup of tea, but being politically over-the-top has always been what makes these Age of Amy books so much fun. And this one was a lot of fun! I didn’t like Channel ’63 as much as I liked the first book in the series, Bonehead Bootcamp, and the second book, Thumper Amendment, but it was still an enjoyable read.

Amy is intelligent, rebellious, and fiercely independent. She’s a teenage girl trying to be a grown-up, and doing a pretty good job at it, honestly. Her voice is raw and defiant, and her story is almost inspiring. The only REAL issue I have with this book is the Robert A. Heinlein-esque borderline pedophilic relationship that was referenced but not explicitly stated, at the end of the book… That’s the best way I could describe it without any major spoilers.

Content Advisory: Some swearing, some intense scenes – medical emergencies, domestic fighting, and armed assault. Nothing graphic, detailed, or excessive. 

To Sum It Up: Fun, fantastic (Definition: imaginative or fanciful), and more than a little crazy, The Age of Amy: Channel ’63 is the perfect choice for a younger reader — or for an adult looking for a break from the intense realism of most modern-day literature. I recommend this book to readers ages 10+.

Review: The Fate of Ten – by Pittacus Lore

Fate of TenTitle: PAIN, AGONY, SUFFERING, AND TEARS — er, I mean: The Fate of Ten (Lorien Legacies, #6)

Author: Pittacus Lore

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Pages / Genre: 416 / Sci-Fi

Summary: The sixth book in the thrilling, action-packed, New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series! For years the Garde have fought the Mogadorians in secret. Now all of that has changed. The invasion has begun. If the Garde can’t find a way to stop the Mogs, humanity will suffer the same fate as the Lorien: annihilation.

There is still hope. When the Elders sent the Garde to Earth, they had a plan—one which the Garde are finally starting to understand. In the climax of The Revenge of Seven, a group of the Garde traveled to an ancient pyramid in Mexico known to their people as the Sanctuary. There they awoke a power that had been hidden within our planet for generations. Now this power can save the world . . . or destroy it. It will all depend on who wields it.

My Review: Well, this will be interesting. I am attempting to write a review while still crying over that ending. I just can’t, okay? I just can’t. James “Pittacus Lore” Frey, I will never forgive you for this. The feels are just too much right now.

Now to attempt to write a semi-coherent review.

Heroes: In past books, I’ve found it difficult to keep track of and care for each of our young Garde, seeing as there are just so many. However, Fate of Ten steers clear of the “too many heroes” complex that similar books fall into (looking at you, Heroes of Olympus). Each of these heroes are individually complex, and you care deeply about the motivations and well-being of each one. That’s the most incredible thing about this series! I love these characters so much.

Plot: The whole series is coming to a close leading up to the final book in the seven story sage United As One. This book is action packed and exciting, as you see previous five books finally coming to fruition as everything begins to fall into place. The story alternates between two main groups: 4, 5, 9, and Sam, and 6, 7, 10, Adam and Sarah. I found myself almost unable to put this book down, and whenever I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. This book is possibly my favorite of the series, though it could have used more Sarah and more 9.

Content Advisory: Lots of battle scenes, and semi-graphic deaths. Mass destruction, sadness, and tears. Your tears. My tears. ALL THE TEARS. 

To Sum it Up: If you enjoy causing yourself emotional pain and distress – this book is for you. Also, if you have been following the adventures of the Garde as long as I have, you absolutely have to read this installment. Suspenseful, action packed, and intense, Fate of Ten was masterfully written. I recommend it to readers 14+.

 

Review: Time for the Stars – By Robert A. Heinlein

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Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com

Title: Time for the Stars

Author: Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Sci-Fi / 256 pages

Summary: Travel to other planets is a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity to find habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. With no time to wait years for communication between slower-than-light spaceships and home, the Long Range Foundation explores an unlikely solution–human telepathy.
Identical twins Tom and Pat are enlisted to be the human radios that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. The only problem is that one of them has to stay behind, and that one will grow old while the other explores the depths of space.Always a master of insight into the human consequences of future technologies, this is one of Heinlein’s triumphs.

My Review: Man, this was a weird book. Yeah, I know, Heinlein practically specializes in weird, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But Time for the Stars was it’s whole own category of strange… But I liked it. Also, this book was published in 1950. That’s crazy to think about! Over 60 years since it’s publication, and this unusual book still fascinates sci-fi readers today. Myself, most certainly included. Heinlein’s

Hero/Heroine: Our two leads here, identical twins Tom and Pat are fascinating, and a refreshing change from the cliche way that twins are often portrayed in novels. Tom and Pat aren’t just in constant competition – frankly, they don’t even like each other very much when our story begins. They are fun characters to read about, and their morals are deep and complex.

Plot: It’s hard to explain the allure of a Heinlein book to someone who has never read one before. His writing is masterful, and his plots are slower paced than what you will see from 21st century writers. But the slow pace is to their benefit, and you never lose interest in the story at hand. They’re nearly impossible to put down, and frankly I find it charming. We follow our young heroes as they begin to experience the consequences of FTL travel, and what that means to them and those they left behind. At the same time, you are experiencing the daily monotony of life on a spaceship that only sees one major battle. The story is not monotonous, though, and you become truly invested in the character’s lives and interactions. Just like with Star Trek. Except there are near constant battles in Star Trek… So, probably not by best comparison, but, whatever.

And, for reals, y’all: THAT ENDING THOUGH. I was in shock for hours! It was crazy.

Content Advisory: An intense battle scene involving significant loss of life. This is a story featuring teenage boys, so there is also romance and some kissing.

To Sum it Up: Heinlein’s storytelling is timeless, charming, and reminiscent of a different age of literature. Time for the Stars is a fun, thought provoking sci-fi adventure that explores FTL travel, telepathy, and what life on a spaceship really means. I recommend this book to readers ages 10+.

Review: The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo, #1) — By Rick Riordan

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Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com

Title: The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo, #1)

Author: Rick Riordan

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Mythology / 376

Summary: 

“How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.”

Cover Review: ★★★★☆ (4.5 of 5). As always, John Rocco’s work is gorgeous. I wish more authors would hire REAL artists to do their book covers, not all that lame photoshop junk that’s normally on covers. The real, gorgeous artwork like this is the best in the industry!

Book Review: Usually, you’re supposed to love a book’s protagonist from the very first page. But in The Hidden Oracle, the opposite is actually true, and it was a refreshing break from the stereotypical MG novel formula. The most rewarding part of this novel was growing to love Apollo, and the godly jerk that he can be, haha. Also, pretty much every Percy Jackson character makes a cameo of some sort in this fantastic book — our beloved hero Percy included! And is there anyone who DIDN’T miss Rachel Elizabeth Dare? No? I didn’t think so. Getting to see her again was amazing!

 

I’m really tired and am not really feeling like writing a review in my typical format. Honestly, I’ll just be happy when I get this one published. I haven’t been doing a very good job of staying on top of these things, unfortunately.

Rick Riordan does NOT disappoint with this latest book. HUGE story arcs that go back to the very beginning of the PJ&O series are coming to light and being explained – and frankly? It’s crazy awesome. Nostalgia and over arcing plots aside, though, this story still plays out to perfection. Our newly introduced characters are complex, flawed, and completely unpredictable. And seeing the god Apollo as a mortal, interacting with our friends at CHB (his children included)? Well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Content Advisory: Some death and fighting, but nothing graphic.

To Sum It Up: Rick Riordan has outdone himself once more, and I cannot wait for the second installment of ToA. Adventure, laughter, betrayal, fighting… The Hidden Oracle has it all. I recommend it to Readers 8 and up.

 

 

Review: The Fool and the Dragonox – by Jacob Gowans

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Cover image and summary from Goodreads.com.

Title: The Fool and the Dragonox: A Prequel to A Tale of Light and Shadow

Author: Jacob Gowans

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Fantasy / 43

Summary: Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it, where magic is feared by all but a few, and where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. In The Fool and the Dragonox, a prequel to A Tale of Light and Shadow, we meet Henry Vestin, his best friend Ruther, his sister, Maggie, and the love of his young life, Isabelle Oslan, as they begin an adventure that will help define their ongoing friendship.

Cover Art Expectations: I really like this cover. The artwork is fantastic and accurately represents the book’s contents. My expectations gathered from judging a book by it’s cover:

  • Fantasy (yes!)
  • Epic magical creatures (yes!)
  • Young Adult novel (yes!)

Cover art rating: ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: I have a policy of only reading prequels after having read at least the first book in the series. Like what you read here? Check out my review of book 1, A Tale of Light and Shadow right HERE. I decided not to do a full section by section review, since the prequel itself was more of a novella than a novel, so there’s not a whole lot of content to review.

I’ve read a lot of prequels over the years, but most of them have fallen prey to the Prequel Syndrome, one of the most deadly illnesses known to books (shortly behind Second Book Syndrome and Love Triangle Flu), they just kinda… fall flat, you know? However, The Fool and the Dragonox deftly avoided contracting Prequel Syndrome, and was an incredible novella! In fact, I liked it even more than I liked the first book in the series! I can’t remember the last time I read a prequel that surpassed the series itself in quality.

The characters were engaging, relatable, and fun. The dialogue was witty and realistic, and the plot was masterfully crafted. This novella will have you laughing at every page! To what lengths will a teenage boy go in an attempt to impress his crush? How can he achieve his goal of becoming the youngest Master carpenter? And what about that best friend of whom his parents disapprove? The world was fantastical and magical, and yet the characters remained real, believable, and enjoyable. Did I mention that I LOVED this book? Because I did love it. A lot.

Content Advisory: Sequences of peril and intensity. Teenage drunkenness. 

To Sum It Up: Even if you haven’t read A Tale of Light and Shadow, you will love this novella. It works great as a stand alone story, or as an introduction into the world of Tale. This story was absolutely phenomenal! Everybody needs a little more adventure in their lives – and you won’t regret the 30 minutes or so that you’ll spend reading this novella! I highly recommend this book to lovers of adventure 10 and up.

Review: Illusionarium – by Heather Dixon

 

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Illusionarium

Author: Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★☆ (4.5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Steampunk / 361

Summary: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Cover Art Expectations: I started this book with a specific set of expectations from the cover art (Because let’s be real here, who DOESN’T judge a book by its cover???):

  • Female protagonist (Definitely not true)
  • Steampunk (True)
  • Fairytale (Nope, not this one)
  • Romance (erm, not really. I mean, kinda. But it’s not a romance novel)

Prior to reading the book I probably would have given the cover 4 stars. The  character artwork is nice, the backdrop is gorgeous and mysterious, and the gear border brings to mind the steampunk genre. However, my expectation score was 1.5 out of 4 correct, bringing the cover art rating down to 3 starsI think it’s important that a cover properly represents the book’s contents. Cover art rating: ★★★☆☆

My Review: First off, there is nothing intrinsically fairytale-esque about this book. (That expectation came from the author’s other works, and the cover art) I must admit, I was very confused when I realized that the protagonist was a teenage boy. Nothing wrong with that, but that was definitely not what I was expecting. Aside from those two things, I absolutely adored this book! I think I read it in about 2 or 3 sittings.

Hero/Heroine: Jonathan: This was the odd part. I’m not sure if this came from my prior expectation, or from the author’s actual writing, but it took me a good 5 or 6 chapters before I stopped having to remind myself that the protagonist was NOT a teenage girl. My mother had the exact same problem with this book. Jonathan’s voice was very confusing at times. Once I got over that block, I was able to truly enjoy and become invested in Jonathan’s character. His loyalty to his sister was one of my favorite aspects of his character. And that plot twist at the end? Pure. Gold.

Plot: Parallel worlds, addictive hallucinatory drugs with devastating consequences, alternate personalities, Science Magic (it’s a thing, y’all. Admit it.), high stakes, a deadly virus, a ticking clock, and some good ol’ fashioned gladiator style violence… Illusionarium has a little bit of everything! The finished product is entrancing, intriguing, and lots of fun. I thought I knew what was going to happen… but there were plenty of beautiful plot twists that kept me guessing. Fantastic plot, and an even more fantastic world. I think the world was my favorite aspect of this book.

Content Advisory: Some violence, death, and disturbing content, but nothing excessively graphic. 

To Sum It up: The world building is really what makes Illusionarium. It’s insanely cool, and thought provoking to boot. It reminded me of an episode of the sci-fi TV show Sliders. Refreshingly unique and spectacularly creative, this steampunk novel is fun for everybody over the age of 12.