ARC Review: Evernight (Ross MacKenzie)

41723518._SY475_Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: February 6th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 342

Blurb from Goodreads:

Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Once I started reading Evernight, I could not stop. I was just pretty much engrossed to the world-building and magic system of Evernight that I kept reading more.

Unfortunately, the story felt very flat. I really hoped that I loved this book as much as other people did, but I was not as invested into the story that much. I understood the story, but I felt like it was just mediocre and nothing special. I think that I really should stop reading middle grade fantasy for a while because I am just not feeling it. I rather just read young adult and adult fiction nowadays.

This is not a standalone, apparently Evernight is the first book to a new spellbinding series. When the second book comes out, I will surely give that book a try.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending Evernight in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Brigid Kemmerer)

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Genre: Children
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: January 7th 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 445

Blurb from Goodreads:

Find the heir, win the crown.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

Here’s my review for A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Despite the mixed reviews, I actually loved this book.

I originally thought that this story would be about Harper and Rhen and it turned out it was not. I was also quite skeptical on what this story would offer after the conclusion of the first book. It turned out that I was truly surprised with the story as there were actually more conflicts and characters that we have yet to meet.

I read the first book back in September 2018 and I read it just in a single sitting. The story truly hooked my attention from the first page with its unique and brilliant cast and plot. Having known that there would be a sequel, I couldn’t be more happier to support this series.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken was mainly told from the perspectives of Grey and Lia Mara. My favorite characters from the series are Harper and Grey, so I was so pleased that we get to spent more time with Grey and witness his development and change from what had happened in the first book. The settings of the book for this time around was mainly outside of Ironrose Castle, so we get to see many other places, kingdoms and royals that we didn’t get to see before. What I liked about it was there was a geographical map that exhibited Emberfall showing cities and physical features. It truly helped me to read about the background and history of Emberfall.

This book was a lot different from the first one. It was certainly a dramatic shift, as if like AHSFAB was a standalone book. Firstly, the motivation of characters were different. Grey has a different plan now as he’s now the heir to the throne. We see his character development from being a guardsman to Rhen to being someone who could stop his governance. The story was very different as well as the main plot was to unite the ties between the two kingdoms in the expense of baiting Grey, the heir to the throne. So, we get to see a lot of politics in this one.

I have to applaud Brigid Kemmerer for writing a really fast paced fantasy book. The writing was brilliant and wonderful and the pacing truly kept me engaged till the end. I appreciate it when an author does not repeat points in the each chapter of a book and just relies on the reader’s intelligence and consciousness to remember the story. It shows that the author trusts us with the story.

Every great book has its weaknesses. What I didn’t like was we didn’t see much of Rhen and Harper in this book as if they were not important in this story at all. I want to read more of their point of view in this book to show that they were also involved in this story. Rhen was also so off-putting in AHSFAB, unlike himself in the first book. However, it was revealed that there was a twistier plot twist at the end of the story, so I could understand why he behaved that way. Unfortunately, the way that Rhen was written in AHSFAB seemed to assume that he was indeed the new villain in this series.

Anywho, I am still excited to read the final book. I am anxious to see where the author will lead us next. I don’t really read that much fantasy, but this series is the one of the best fantasy out there.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending A Heart So Fierce and Broken in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: The Threads of Magic (Alison Croggon)

35225815._SY475_Genre: Children
Publisher:
Walker Books Ltd
Expected Publication Date: March 5th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 379

Blurb from Goodreads:

An atmospheric and riveting fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of Frances Hardinge and Cornelia Funke.

Pip lives on his wits in the city of Clarel. When he pickpockets the wrong man, he finds himself in possession of a strange object – a heart in a silver casket. What’s more, the heart seems to be trying to communicate with Pip, and the royal officials who lost it will stop at nothing to get it back. Pip has unwittingly broken an ancient spell, and his theft will have far-reaching consequences for the whole city. As the ancient war between the Spectres and witches of Clarel reignites, the heart prepares to seek revenge for all it has suffered… Alison Croggon conjures a rich, immersive world with brilliant and memorable characters in this captivating story of loyalty, courage and friendship.


RATING

2.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I picked this book up because of the quite interesting blurb. Unfortunately, the story was not that interesting.

I expected a fast and engaging read but I took almost two weeks to finish this and I really had to force myself to continue reading it.

While reading I didn’t have a clear perspective on the story. Basically, I was just lost during the entire time. I didn’t relate to the any of the characters that much and I didn’t even get to grasp the basic plot of the story line. Nothing extraordinary really happened in the book. All I know was that the story only occurred at small and dark lanes of streets of Clarel.

I really wish I could enjoy this book but sorry to say, this book was just underwhelming.

Special thanks to Pansing Books for sending this ARC in exchange of a honest review.

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Sabrina

Review: Blood Heir (Amélie Wen Zhao)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 19th 2019
Format: Hardback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 464

Blurb from Goodreads:

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.


RATING 

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I finish Blood Heir today and wow, what a ride.

I have been so interested to get my hands on Blood Heir since the news about alleged claims on the ARC. I’ve read web posts regarding that matter and I want to applaud Amélie Wen Zhao for being so brave in handling this subject.

Blood Heir is a dark retelling of Anastasia and is set in Russian-esque setting. Blood Heir revolves around affinite indenturement, which discusses about forced labor among the affinites, who possess magical abilities, or as quoted in the book, “a person who has a connection to physical or metaphysical elements, ranges from a heightened sense of element to ability to manipulate or generate the element.”

In the book, they are forced to obey to their master, for example doing performances for the rich as a form of entertainment, like a circus. They are physically and mentally controlled so they are unable to fight for themselves. The author has stated that the story is based on her extensive research on indentured labor specifically from her heritage. What I can say is that the author does a decent job in telling us the features of indentured labor in the story incisively. It’s important that we acknowledge global problems like indenture labor so that we understand the history behind it.

There are not many fantasy books that can keep me hooked from start till the end. Yes, as you have guessed, Blood Heir keeps me hooked. From the first page, I am totally engrossed with the story. The synopsis sounds so cliché, but trust me once you’re in this book, you are in for roller coaster ride. The author does a great job in handling the pacing. The narration is consistent enough to make me continue reading. For the writing, it is wonderfully done. It’s impossible to believe that this is a debut novel because the writing is fantastic.

The two main characters, Ana and Ransom are quite interesting. Their development are fleshed out. Both have different motivations but their mission is the same. I like the way the author writes about the style of point of view between Ana and Ransom. They are written via third person so it gives the readers more time to explore and decide what their motives are. The author also gives enough background information for Ana and Ransom so it is interesting to see how the story unfolds at the end.

The whole message from this book is about self acceptance. Ana, from the beginning of the book, doubts on her abilities and sees herself as a monster who destroys her family to realizing that people cannot change what they are born with, however it is our choices that depict what we truly are.

I am happy that my expectations are met, however I am sad that we have to wait a year for second book, Red Tigress to release.

Highly recommend this engaging story to YA Fantasy lovers.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me a finished copy of Blood Heir in exchange of an honest review.

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Sabrina

ARC Review: Thorn (Intisar Khanani)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Hot Key Books
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 456

Blurb from Goodreads:

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.


RATING

3.5 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

TW: Abuse.

Thorn is a retelling of The Goose Girl and I haven’t read the original fairy tale. I am always interested in reading fairy tale retelling so this is a great start for me to try and read something new.

Princess Alyrra doesn’t want to be a princess. She longs for a normal life without her abusive brother and cold mother. However, one day, a king asks her to marry his son and as someone who wants to get away from the abuse, she agrees. Everything changes when her handmaiden swaps her body with Alyrra’s identity.

The first few chapters is enough to make me captivated with story. The plot is okay, enough to kept me reading till the end. The pace is fast at the beginning as many things happen and we get to see minor characters that contribute to the story. However, the pace declines in the middle of the story as they are many filler chapters that drags the story too much. I struggle through a few chapters because it is kinda monotonous. I understand that the story needs to slowly build up towards the climax, just as we see in many other fantasy books out there. The length of the book doesn’t do justice to the story. It would be better if the book is shorten to just 300 pages long.

I have read reviews and many express that the main character is too flawless. I get it, we want to see a perfect heroine in all of the books that we read, but we all have flaws.

Unfortunately for me, I am not invested in any of the characters in the book except for Alyrra and Kestrin. Maybe because there are too many characters to begin with and that makes the character development to slack. They are not memorable enough to be remembered. I am particularly interested in Alyrra’s relationship with Falada, but their time together is very short as something happens. I don’t understand why the author needs to that.

I appreciate that the author addresses issues like abuse and politics in the royals. We witness Alyrra is abused by her brother but no one bats an eye towards the issue. We see that the royals are not serious with the people’s welfare. I adore Alyrra’s criticism towards the King and its government in being complacent to care for its people. Corruption should be stopped, in any kind of levels.

I look forward to read more books from Intisar Khanani after this.

Thank you Pansing Books for sending Thorn in exchange of an honest review!

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Sabrina

Review: The Tyrant’s Tomb (Rick Riordan)

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:
 Puffin Books
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 469

Blurb from Goodreads:

You will get to the Tiber alive. You will start to Jive.

I am Apollo
I will remember

The former God Apollo, cast out by his father, Zeus, is having a pretty rough time of it.

Well, for one thing, he’s called Lester. But being an awkward mortal teenager is the least of his worries.

Though he and his friends (some of them) have emerged from the Burning Maze, rescued the Oracle and lived to fight another day, they can’t escape the tragedy that has befallen them, or the terrible trials still to face.

So, with heavy heart, Apollo (OK, Lester) and Meg have a triumvirate still to defeat, oracles to rescue, and prophecies to decipher, so that the world may be saved, and Lester may ascend into the heavens to become Apollo once again.

But, right now, Caligula is sailing to San Francisco to deal with Camp Jupiter personally, and they have to get their first. Or risk its destruction . . .


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

My review for The Trials of Apollo series:

The Hidden Oracle
The Dark Prophecy
The Burning Maze

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I’ve always enjoyed reading Rick Riordan’s books for the past few years, firstly with Percy Jackson and Hero of Olympus series because of its uniqueness in telling about Greek and Roman gods and mythologies. That is the reason why I continue reading The Trials of Apollo.

I also love that Rick Riordan incorporates his other books into The Trials of Apollo series because you can see the growth, development and change within the Percy Jackson’s world. Even though you will get confused with the old Greek and Roman’s god, goddesses and emperors, there is always a guide at the back of each book for you to refer.

I’ve always loved Lester as a character in The Trials of Apollo. He’s very different from other heroes like Percy Jackson. He’s a former God named Apollo, he is banished by his father to Earth and he has lost everything he knows including his sister, Artemis. His narrative is extremely amusing and that makes me truly entertained throughout this book. I also love Lester and Meg’s relationship, even though by contract Meg is Lester’s master, they are like family who understand and take care of each other in every way. There is a reference to Avengers: Infinity War in this book and I truly appreciate the pop culture reference in this world.

In this book, we meet characters from Heroes of Olympus series such as Reyna, Hazel, Frank Zhang and Ella the Harpy and it is great to see and read about their journey in protecting Lester and Camp Jupiter’s safety from the prophecy. By reading the ending, I can truly sense that we will meet characters from Percy Jackson series like Percy, Annabeth and Grover again soon because we are going to reach the end of The Trials of Apollo series, The Tower of Nero.

Now, we will have to wait for another year to pass by for The Tower of Nero. I’m doomed.

Thank you Times Reads for sending me a copy of The Tyrant’s Tomb!

X

Sabrina

 

Review: Tunnel of Bones (Victoria Schwab)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am so excited to know that there will be a second book in this Cassidy Blake series. I love reading middle grade books and if there is a pinch of paranormal inside of the story, I would be definitely sold!

Here’s my review for City of Ghosts. 

This time around, Cassidy is on a mission to hunt down ghost stories in Paris, France, where it is known to be a heaven of fashion and a scene of love among tourists. However, we do not know that underneath Paris, there is a creepy catacomb that places millions of dead bodies turned into a tunnel of bones.

Paris plays a wonderful backdrop to this ghost story. I love reading about the scenery, people, food and most importantly about the places. Cassidy and her family travel to many landmarks in Paris to explore the history of the place and ghost stories behind it and it is so interesting to see how the stories unravel. I love the juxtaposition on how Victoria can turn this fashion city into such a haunted place that is so terrifying to even visit.

I also love Cassidy’s friendship with her ghost friend, Jacob. Their friendship are honestly hashtag goals because they are always be there for each other. Even though they are very different in terms of personality, but the difference makes the relationship even stronger.

I cannot wait to see what city Victoria is going to write about in the next book and I know that it will not disappoint us all.

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Sabrina