Review: Bound by Blood and Sand

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Bound by Blood and Sand by: Becky Allen

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this Arc in participation of the blog tour and the Sunday street team. When I saw this book amongst the October SST I immediately signed up. I liked the synopsis and I thought that this book would be very interesting. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I was not sure whether or not I would like this book. Considering that the main character is a slave I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to take. I was actually quite surprised that this book wasn’t graphic! Yes there were some scenes that were quite horrible but it didn’t bother me.

The book is written in third person alternating between Jae and Elan’s point of views. There are also some flashbacks that prove to be very important to the plot.

The book begins with Jae as she is tending to the garden. Unfortunately she cannot do that good of a job because Aredann (the estate where she lives) is lacking water. Her guardian Lady Shirrad allows Jae to use the water carefully as she is expecting a very important guest. 

Once her work is over Jae makes her way to her quarters and talks with her twin brother Tal. Their conversation is interrupted by another slave who mentions he has information on the guest that arrived. Said guest is Lord Elan who is a prince. The reason for the visit is to determine whether Aredann is worth saving. The Highest (Elan’s people) can only give so much water to the estates. According to said Closest (the slave) the Highest are planning on moving Lady Shirrad and her servants to another location so that they can pass the water along more easily. But the Closest will not be coming.

This is literally the most powerful book I have read to this day! It really makes you think about everything differently. Especially water and how there are so many people in this world that don’t have access to it. And wow the writing style was so good!

The magic system in this book was very interesting! The author manages to make you feel like you are with the characters going through their journey and suffering. It honestly felt like I was in a desert even though I was in my bedroom.

I especially liked reading about the characters and their relationships with one another. All the characters are gray and very well done! I liked all of them (expect Elan’s father) even Lady Shirrad, who in the end earned my respect. 

I loved Tal and Jae’s relationship. Tal brought the good side in Jae out. Tal was also quite sweet himself. Jae is a very different character than I am used to reading. She is very bitter and angry. But there is goodness in her. Elan was somewhat annoying in the beginning. Throughout the book he grew. His character development was my favourite to read about!

There is literally zero romance in this book! Which is something very rare in fantasy. Jae and Elan’s relationship was definitely interesting to read about. Jae despised Elan at first as the book continued they have an almost friendship. They trust each other but they’re not necessarily friends. I have feeling that they will become something more in the next book.

I enjoyed reading about Jae’s powers and how they connected to the Well. And the Well’s history was very interesting as well. I did not see that plot twist that came in the end! It was beautiful and depressing at the same time. Come to think of it I didn’t see anything coming.

This book is quite slow but I found that it worked for the plot. As it is also focused on the characters. I found that the author did a good job of balancing the plot with the flashbacks. They were became overbearing. In fact I looked forward to reading the flashbacks.

I didn’t have any problems with this book. It just felt like a 3 star read.

Overall I enjoyed this book! I will definitely be reading the sequel and possibly anything this author writes. I highly recommend this series to everybody! I personally feel that this is an important book that everyone should read.

Giveaway for a preoder of Bound by Blood and Sand! 

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Review: Fear the Drowning Deep

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Fear the Drowning Deep by: Sarah Glenn Marsh

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Sunday Street Team. 

I had heard about this book through Twitter. Quite a few people were talking about it but at the time it didn’t catch my eye. It wasn’t until I got the sign up form for the street team that I considered reading it.

Now I suppose because I didn’t really care much for Fear the Drowning Deep I didn’t have any expectations. I was quite surprised that I enjoyed it! The book takes place sometime during the 1913. It is written in first person through Bridey’s point of view.

The minute you read the first page the book grabs you and it’s hard to stop. We are taken right when Bridey finds a dead girls body. Soon after that the town is in a frenzy as there hasn’t been a death since Bridey’s grandfather.

When Bridey was seven years old she and her grandfather were walking by the beach. She’s trying to have a conversation with him when suddenly he stops replying. He mentions whether Bridey can hear the singing to which she replies no. Her grandfather claims that the singing is coming from the water. He walks to the cliff and jumps off with a smile on his face.

Bridey told her townspeople about what happened but they all thought she was crazy. Add to the fact that she’s the only person in the town who doesn’t like the water. Throughout the book Bridey soon realizes that all these disappearances and murders are somehow linked to her grandfather’s death. She explains as much to her people but they don’t believe her. The only one who does is Fynn and the Witch she is apprenticed to. With their help she looks for a way to stop the monster from killing her townspeople.

I didn’t see any of the plot coming! This is a very original book. The book is fairly fast paced and I was never bored. It was interesting reading about the witch that Bridey was apprenticed to as well as the monsters. All of the monsters are from some mythology. Personally speaking I have never read about these monsters before.

The family relationship was absolutely amazing! Bridey has two sisters and adoring parents. Despite some of the sisters’ arguments they stood by each other. The same goes for Bridey’s parents. When Bridey found Fynn her parents took him in and treated them as their own. They stood up for him when the town started to get suspicious of Fynn.

I also loved Bridey’s friendship! I forgot her friends’ names but I loved reading about them! They were a tight group. Now one of her friends is a guy and there is a bit of a love triangle but it gets resolved fairly quickly.

I liked reading about Bridey and Fynn’s relationship. They were sweet together. Although I did feel that it was a bit rushed. There is a certain reveal that comes out about Fynn which ruined the romance for me. I still liked his character though.

I found the ending to be just right for the book. And in a sense it was beautiful. It gives Bridey and the readers hope.

I had two problems with Fear the Drowning Deep. I wished that we got to read more about Bridey’s friends. They didn’t really come in a lot. And that reveal about Fynn was shocking and a bit odd considering that Bridey and Fynn were dating.

Overall I enjoyed this book! I am definitely going to be checking out more from this author. I recommend it for anyone looking for a fantasy standalone. 

Review: Ordinary Magic

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Ordinary Magic by: Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.

The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!

Beware spoilers ahead!

This book was recommended to me by Sierra! Click on her name to read her review. 

I heard about this through Twitter. Sierra was doing one of those 1 click= 1 book and out of curiosity I looked at the thread. Out of 50 plus reccomendation’s Ordinary Magic caught my eye. I love reading Middle Grade especially books with magic in them! I was happy to see that this was in my library. While this wasn’t what I was expecting I still enjoyed it!

The book begins with Abby and her family getting ready for her Judging. Abby has been looking forward to this day. She can finally practice magic! She’s a bit nervous about the level she’ll be and the Judging in general. Luckily her whole family are going to support her.

Once Abby and her family reach the place where she’ll be Judged they go their separate ways. Abby to be Judged and her family to wait. Abby is told that she needs to step through a barrier and then her test will begin. She does so but nothing happens. Abby doesn’t feel any difference. The people Judging her look shocked and ask her to walk around the barrier several times. They inform Abby that she is and Ord. She has no magic in her whatsoever. Abby is in shock and really upset.

Her parents are called in and they in just as much shock as Abby is. The man informs Abby’s parents that because she is an Ord they will need to get rid of her. Her parents deny doing so and leave. Her siblings are in shock as well but quickly try to cheer Abby up. When they leave the building word has gotten out and everyone is avoiding Abby’s family.

They arrive home to have a party for Abby nonetheless. Abby remains upset because none of her friends came and some of her other family members didn’t come. Her aunt left early and her parents told her that if she was going to leave early then she shouldn’t come back. Abby’s family make sure that she has a good day.

The next day Abby wakes up to her family having a heated discussion. Abby joins her family and asks what’s going on. Her oldest sister Alexa say’s that their counsel has requested buying Abby. Abby then asks her parents whether they are going to sell her to anyone. Her family replies with a firm ‘No’. Alexa then mentions that as her work for the King there is a school for Ord’s. And that they are going to enroll Abby in it. Abby is quite shocked when she hears this as Alexa doesn’t mention her work. But she’s willing to give it a go seeing as she’s not sure what to do with her life.

I was expecting to love this book. But nonetheless I did enjoy it! I really liked the writing style. The author did a good job of writing about a 12 year old. This book is written in first person in Abby’s point of view.

Now when I saw Sierra mention this book the only thing that I remembered about it was that it had magic and that Abby was an Ord. I didn’t realize just how brutal this book was going to be! I was so surprised and angry when I read about how Ord’s are typically treated. Normally they are sold off to basically anyone asking for them. Simply because they have no means of survival in society. Most people treat Ord’s as objects and avoid them like their contagious. I’m not even exaggerating. This book was also action packed! Surprisingly so. 

The family aspect was amazing! I loved reading about their interactions with one-another! I always had a huge grin on my face whenever Abby’s family came in! I liked Abby’s friends Fran and Fred. And I kind of liked Peter. I also liked Abby. And while Abby still didn’t really stand up for herself she did grow.

Once Abby gets to school she’s not well liked. Quite a few people are jealous of her because her family cares about her. People also don’t like the fact that Abby talks a lot about her family. They always seemed to forget that Peter also had his mother. But that might just be because Peter’s mother is an Ord and Ord’s seem to stick together. The ending was bitter sweet but realistic. 

I had 5 problems with Ordinary Magic. I felt that the book started to loose it’s appeal once Abby started attending school. I also felt that while Abby went through character development the other characters did not. I would’ve liked to read more about Peter just to understand his character. I really did not like the way Cook Bella treated Abby. She was unfair through-and-through. I think that it may have been her way of teaching Abby. I never felt that Abby ever became one of the kitchen staff. It seems that it is implied but I never felt it.

Overall this was a good book! I recommend to anyone looking for a standalone fantasy middle grade book. 

Review: Shadowland

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Shadowland by: Meg Cabot

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

There’s a hot guy in Susannah Simon’s bedroom. Too bad he’s a ghost.

Suze is a mediator – a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind… and Suze happens to be in the way.

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I was younger I was a fan of Meg Cabot. As far as I was concerned she could do no wrong and that all her books were fantastic! Last year I discovered that it’s not true. I found out that I didn’t like her contemporary books. But I still immensely enjoyed her paranormal/supernatural books. This year I remembered this series and was happy to find that my library has it! I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

The book begins with Suze mentioning the differences between New York and California. Her mother has gotten remarried and they had to shift to California because Andy her step dad owns a business there. Suze actually likes Andy and she doesn’t mind Dopey, Sleepy, and Doc (her nicknames for her step brothers) but she doesn’t like the fact that they had to move. Suze doesn’t share these thoughts with her mother. Andy makes her mother very happy and Suze is okay with that.

Her new family take her home. On the way there she notices again how different Cali is from New York. While they are talking it comes out that the school she’ll be attending is a very old building. As is there house. After hearing this Suze starts to freak out because she doesn’t like old buildings.

When they get to the house Suze tries to remain calm. Andy has put a lot of work into the house and has tried to make it comfortable for her. Once they reach Suze’s room she sees a guy sitting at her window seat. Only the rest of her family don’t see him. Suze can see ghosts and usually there are more ghosts in old buildings.

I seriously did not expect to enjoy Shadowland this much! It was so much fun! This book is written in first person told in Suze’s point of view. It takes place over the course of a few days.

I loved Suze. She is definitely my favourite Meg Cabot character! She was smart and a bit of a hot-head. She was tough and could handle a fight just fine.It was interesting to read about her experience with ghosts. And how the mediator stuff works. Throughout this book Suze trying to help people ends up being a bit reckless. She never accepts anyone’s help she goes solo. Throughout the book she decides to work with other and that it isn’t so bad.

The relationships were awesome! I loved how close Suze was with her mother and that she didn’t mind her step father. It’s nice to read about a good step parent. While Suze isn’t close to any of her brothers in the beginning of the book she does develop a good relationship with Doc. It was so sweet reading about! It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine but they were there for each other.

The little I read about Cece and Adam was nice. I liked Father Dom and Jesse. Father Dom is the principle (and a priest) of the school that Suze attends. Much to her surprise he is also a mediator and does offer to train her. He was a nice mentor. Jesse was a bit clueless but sweet. This does take place in a few days so there isn’t really any romance. Suze does consider Jesse good looking but at the moment they’re just friends.

The plot was pretty good. Heather was realistic. There are definitely girls like her. It was also nice to for a change that Suze didn’t like her powers. But that didn’t mean that she was rude to people she still did all her ghostly duty without a lot of complaints. I admire her for that.

I only had two problems with Shadowland. There were times when Suze would talk about how good looking Jesse that it would become annoying. And while I understood why she did so there were times when I felt it wasn’t necessary. Also I find it very weird that in a matter of a day Suze is very popular. Yes she did save one of the students and threaten to break another students fingers, I don’t think it’s possible to get popular that fast. Nonetheless I enjoyed this!

Overall this was a really good book! I recommend this series to anyone looking for a completed fantasy that it more focused on the character development.  

Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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The Rose & the Dagger by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Buddy read with Waukesha, Luke, and Adita! Once their reviews have been posted I’ll add the links.

For those of you that followed me back in November probably know that I did not enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn. You’re probably wondering why I bothered to continue this series. Part of it was curiosity. It was curiosity that got me to finish all the short stories. After I finished The Mirror in the Maze I was curious to see how the series ended. It came in my library I put it on hold. While I did enjoy this more than the first book I can’t say I’m happy with how this series ended. 

The book begins with a prologue in which a little girl and her brother are trying to restore their house. A storm blew their house over. Unfortunately the storm killed their mother. While the girl and her brother start clearing the area a boy appears in their door. The girl realizes that this boy is the prince. The prince mentions that he would like to help the girl and boy with their home. The brother agrees and they continue to work.

After they have finished most of the work the brother asks for the princes name. The prince says that his name is Khalid. The brother introduces himself. And the girl turns out to be Shiva.

The plot in this book was much better than the first! There was a large focus on the war and some politics. The magic was interesting to read about as were the new characters. There wasn’t that much focus on Shazi and Khalid’s relationship. I actually found Khalid to be much smarter in this book. He started acting like a King. I enjoyed reading about Shazi’s sister Irsa! She was so refreshing to all the strong and confident females you read about. And I absolutely loved her romance! Rahim was so sweet! All of the twists and reveals were very surprisingly. Especially concerning Despina. There was this really sweet scene were Shiva comes in! 

Shazi and Tariq were the same. Which is to say annoying. I actually noticed an error while reading this book. In the beginning of the book it is mentioned that Shiva’s mother died in the storm. Yet when Shazi and Tariq are talking about Shiva, it’s mentioned that his aunt (Shiva’s mother) committed suicide. Please do correct me if I’m wrong. The curse was pushed aside in this book. You’d think with it being deal in the first book it’s reduced to nothing in this book. The magic wasn’t really explained.

I also wished that Irsa and Rahim were the main characters as I would’ve preferred to read about their romance. You are given constant reminders in this about how strong the women are. In the form of a stupid man touching her. And said women defending herself. How was it that most of the men Shazi ran into were pervs? I am not at all happy with how Irsa and Rahim’s romance was dealt with. While the epilogue was somewhat sweet it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m really not happy with a certain part of the ending.

Overall this was not a good conclusion in my eyes. But I still recommend it to fans of forbidden romance and fairy tale retellings.  

Review: The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 6

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The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 6 by: Jun Mochizuki

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Jun Mochizuki, acclaimed creator of PandoraHearts, continues her epic adventure tale, The Case Study of Vanitas!
Showing up without an invitation, an old friend of Noe’s appears and…collars him?! Vanitas can’t very well let his companion up and disappear, but where exactly are his quarry headed??

Find out what happens in the sixth installment of Jun Mochizuki’s latest epic adventure tale, The Case Study of Vanitas, the same day as Japan!

Beware spoilers ahead!

After finishing the last chapter I was eager to read this one. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this chapter!

The chapter begins where the last one left off. Noe is doubling over in pain and says that he indeed did see the Charlatan. Dominique a woman claiming to be Noe’s fiancee enters. Noe reveals that he isn’t engaged to Dominique and that she is a childhood friend. Dominique then takes Noe with her leaving Vanitas.

When Noe asks why she came after him she explains that it is because she was worried about Noe. As readers have already seen Noe is absolutely clueless and very child-like. Dominique thinks that Vanitas is using Noe for some personal gain. Dominique mentions that she was able to get an invitation to a party so that Noe can have a word with one of the attenders about curse breakers. Eventually Vanitas finds them and goes with them. The chapter ends with Dominique telling Vanitas Noe’s backstory.

The only reason I rated this 3 stars is because I felt that the chapter was too short. When I got to the end I was surprised and assumed that there would be more. But alas I finished it. What I really enjoyed about this chapter was Dominique. I liked her character. And as usual this was funny. What’s interesting is that Dominique is Noe’s teacher’s granddaughter. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Noe’s past in the next chapter!

Overall a good but too short of a read. I recommend this series to people looking for a unique fantasy. And for anyone who is new to reading manga, who would like to start off with fantasy. 

Review: Wolf by Wolf

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Wolf by Wolf by: Ryan Graudin

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Chantal! Click on her name to read her review. 

I had been hearing about this book for quite a while. I never paid attention to it. It wasn’t until I came across Chantal’s review that I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

The book begins in the year 1944. Yael and several other Jews are being transferred to a death camp. Everyone around Yael is either screaming or crying. Once they reach their destination the men and women are separated. Yael sticking to her mother comes across a very peculiar man. He continues to stare at Yael. Eventually he tells one of his people to get Yael sent to a lab for experiments.

The reason I couldn’t finish this book is because of the experiments. Yael was 6 when she was experimented on. To me it was horrifying. I kept on cringing when I read the first chapter. I should’ve known that I wouldn’t be able to finish this because of the experiments.

Overall this book was not for me. But I still recommend it to fans of dystopia and sci-fi.