Book Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

About the Book:

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After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn.

As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own… Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking listen, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book by chance and decided to give it a try! I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy that I liked it. At first I was not very clear on what was happening, but as the story progressed, it was easier to understand.

Dead Beautiful follows Renee Winters as she deals with the death of her parents, having to suddenly live with her grandfather, moving to a new school and trying to understand the weirdness of the place. Gottfried Academy has quite a few secrets to which only some are privy including Renee’s grandfather as she eventually finds out.

I found the concept and plot to be intriguing and a pleasant change from only reading vampire and/or werewolf based fantasy fiction novels. There’s romance, friendship that lasts and a whole lot of secrets and mysteries to uncover. The first is the truth behind Renee’s parents’ deaths. Another mystery is the death of a student at Gottfried previously that is eerily similar to how Renee’s parents died. Of course we also have to find out the truth behind Dante, gorgeous as he may be!

The characters are pretty standard and well crafted, but not everyone is as they seem. I think this is what made it more interesting. Each character is unique. I also enjoyed reading about Renee’s relationship with her grandfather and how it evolves.

I enjoyed the book and the twists at the end. I honestly did not see it coming and I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Book Review: Saved by the Spell (House of Magic #2) by Susanna Shore

About the Book:

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Magic and I hadn’t exactly had a good start, but thanks to a spell that made me repulsive to men, I was seriously considering becoming a witch hunter.

A chance encounter with a charming stranger makes Phoebe dream of a happily-ever-after, until she learns that there’s a spell on her that makes her repulsive to men. Luckily her boss, Archibald Kane, and her new landladies are experts on magic. Only this one seems to confound them all.

Who has spelled her and why? Is it a challenge on Kane’s leadership of the mages? Or is there a more sinister game afoot?

Phoebe doesn’t mind the space men give her in the tube, but her cousin’s engagement party is coming up. How is she to celebrate, if she makes half the guests nauseous? And how is she to charm the man of her dreams when she suspects he’s part of the problem?

It might take the Archmage to break the spell—if only they could find him. A spell may be needed to save them both.

My Thoughts:

This is the first book by the author that I have read. I dived right into Book 2 without having read Book 1, but that was alright. I was easily able to catch on to who the characters are and what happened in Book 1 based on the references.

The story follows Phoebe as she once again finds herself in an awkward situation with magic. She has been spelled and is now repelling all men. This makes it difficult for her at work with her boss and at home. Surrounded by mages, Archmages, werevolves and vampires, Phoebe just might have a chance to break the spell. Who knows, maybe being spelled can come in handy or maybe not? Read on to find out.

The story is light and fast paced, the events developing rather quickly. The plot is straightforward but with an element of mystery that adds value to the magic of the book. I enjoyed reading this book and getting to know the various eccentric characters. The author has added in some humor to lighten the situations further and this helps to set the story apart.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book to join Phoebe, Archibald and all the others on their next adventure.

Book Review: Lies of the Blood Moon by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth

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My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC from Nina and Kimberly in exchange for an honest review! A huge thanks to them for this opportunity.

Lies of the Blood Moon is Book 2 in the New World Shifters series, coauthored by two wonderful authors! This book picks up where Book 1 ended just after Madame Nova’s death. Poppy, our protagonist, is now a stronger person and suspects that the death was actually murder. Her suspicions grow stronger when another of the girls is killed putting everyone at risk. On the other hand, Ryne is trying to stay away from Poppy and is found to be betrothed to Elle, a Luna Wolf and the new teacher for the girls. Here we are introduced to the protective and jealous side of Poppy, a side I’m guessing even she didn’t know about.

As the plot thickens, we have a whole lot of emotions going around and the authors have done a brilliant job in building up the suspense. No-one is really as they seem and there is more to the people than meets the eye. With the Pink Moon Festival approaching and a few engagements announced, there is a whole lot of drama in this book! I like how the girls are portrayed in this book and the bonds that form, break and reform among all of the characters.

Be prepared to be shocked by the turn of events which leads to an interesting ending that lays a strong foundation for the next book. Though some of the plot is easy to guess, the authors have a few tricks up their sleeves just to throw us off balance. There is romance, action, drama and even death in this well-written sequel that makes the book absolutely worth reading! I am looking forward to the next book and all the events to come.

WWW WEDNESDAY – 21/07/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

A variety of genres actually!

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am hoping to get started with my brand new copy of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. The book has an amazing cover and spray painted edges! Considering that this is one of the most talked about books, I am excited to join the fan club!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

About the Book:

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A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.

My Thoughts:

This debut novel by Tasha Suri is well written and gripping. Set in a world inspired by Mughal India, Tasha creates a captivating world of politics, intrigue and of course magic. Her characters are refreshing as is the concept for the plot.

The book follows Mehr as she tries to survive in her father’s household under her very watchful stepmother. Born of mixed heritage, Mehr is forbidden from talking about or openly following the customs of her mother’s people. She practices and learns in secret and is always careful to not be seen doing anything she should not. However, one foolish action leads to a series of events that define Mehr and her life thereafter. When her power is finally noticed, the Emperor’s mystics come for her with an offer of marriage.

As the story progresses, we learn a lot more about the ways of the Amrithi people, their culture and magic. They are a dying race and few have the kind of power that Mehr possesses. The author weaves an intriguing tale around this concept, taking us deep into a world of deceit and a thirst for power. With few people on her side, Mehr has to save not only herself but the entire world and set things right by the Gods.

I loved reading about the journey through the desert and the experiences of our characters. The setting is exotic and pulls the reader into a different world entirely. Overall this is a good read in the fantasy fiction genre and I recommend this for all fans!

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

About the Book:

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It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires.

A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.

Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist.

Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts:

I discovered the series on one of the online streaming channels and realized that it is actually based on a book series. I watched one episode and then decided to read the book first. I honestly prefer to read books more than watch the series/movies.

This book drew me in instantly. Diana is a strong independent woman who is trying to keep away from the one thing that defines who she is, magic. She is a witch, the last in the line of the strongest witches and she has her own internal demons to fight. A historian, Diana unknowingly opens an alchemical manuscript that alerts all creatures to her presence and draws them to her. Everyone wants the book. Everyone has an agenda.

Matthew, a vampire, is drawn to Diana for reasons he does not understand. It starts off with the manuscript like all other creatures, but then protective instincts kick in and suddenly he wants to keep the others away from her, keep her safe. As they start to work together, there is so much chemistry and passion that builds between them, both professionally and personally.

This is a tale of forbidden love, of loving outside your community, crossing boundaries and of enduring love. Wow. That is a lot of love talk! But this book is so well written with it’s technical descriptions that will not put the reader off. It does the opposite, it will draw you in until you are a part of the world of these characters.

At first the story takes time to build and then slowly builds pace which is then held steady. We follow Diana and Matthew as they navigate a world of creatures where there are rules and of course people who are out to get them. With the support of family and loved ones, they try to find out the truth of the manuscript and keep everyone safe. Diana starts to learn about her magic, her legacy and who she is. She starts to unravel the mystery behind her parents death and come into her own all with the strong support of one truly handsome vampire!

This is a wonderful story that is told in a manner that will leave the reader spellbound. The author casts a wonderful web of magic on reader that carries them along until the end. I loved reading this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Book Review: The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad

  Join us for this tour from June 1 to Jun 28, 2021!

 Book Details:

Book Title:  The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad
Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  175 pages
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Amazon KDP
Release date:   March 2021
Content Rating:  PG: Some intense scenes and mild language.

Book Description:

The point of no return has come!

It’s the summer before high school and life is about to change for fourteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer hexes her with everlasting powers, requiring her to become an enchantress. If she cannot learn to control her magic pronto, she will forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s eternal slave.

In order to control her powers, Alyssa must gain control of her emotions. With the struggles of adolescence and disasters everywhere, catastrophes are bound to happen! It’s only a matter of time before Alyssa’s world changes, for better or worse…

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Meet the Author: Sunayna Prasad enjoys writing fantasy books for children, as well as cooking, creating artwork, watching online videos, and blogging. She has also written The Frights of Fiji, and A Curse of Mayhem and is constantly creating and brainstorming new ideas.

Sunayna also loves cartoons, traveling, and thinking outside the box.

She lives in New York.

Connect with the Author:   website ~ twitter ~ goodreads

 

Enter the Giveaway:

THE NEW ENCHANTRESS (An Alyssa McCarthy Magical Missions) Book Tour Giveaway

My Thoughts (Book Review):

The New Enchantress is Book 3 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. This book follows Alyssa as she once again gains magic powers and has to become an enchantress. She has to learn to control her powers otherwise she will forget everyone she knows and loves and become a slave to the evil warlock. The story starts off with an upcoming middle grade graduation sleep over where we see Alyssa and her friends gather at her house to spend some time. However, Alyssa’s spirits are dampened due to the loss of her laptop and her newly gained magical powers. Being a moody young teen, she takes it out on her friends causing some backlash.

I found this to be quite childish in the way the friendships are handled. Some of the things the girls say or Alyssa says do not seem to fit with a young teen. It was difficult for me to relate to them as young teens with the way they talked and behaved. However, the writing in this book is much much better than the previous two books and the focus on the plot has been strengthened. I appreciate and acknowledge the maturity in the author’s writing when compared to the previous books, though I believe that there is room for further improvement.

The plot is much the same as the previous books with something going wrong and Alyssa setting out to fix it. One thing however is how she has to learn to control her emotions to be able to control her powers and thus foil the warlock’s plans. By the end, she learns the meaning of friendship, of thinking about things beyond herself and of giving back. I like how this was handled in the book.

Overall an entertaining magic filled read that will keep readers busy for an evening or two!

Guest Post by Sunayna Prasad:

How I Chose my Novels’ Time Settings

We may be living in 2021 (and a global pandemic), but the events of my stories take place over 10 years ago.

In “The Frights of Fiji” and “A Curse of Mayhem,” the year revealed is 2010. “The New Enchantress” is set in 2011. So, my MC, Alyssa would actually only be a few years younger than me if she were real. She would have just turned 24 this past April.

While that may sound disappointing to certain people, there is a reason why the stories take place a long time ago. Some editors pointed out that the stories were set when my readers were babies or really little and suggested that I updated the first book’s setting, which got revised as a new edition in 2018. However, I am glad that I rejected that advice. The editor also understood and agreed that authors should get to choose to set their stories whenever they want.

But I will share two reasons why the events of my “Magical Missions” series take place in the early 2010s.

1: The first installment was originally written and published in the early 2010s.

I started working on book 1 after a bad turnout with a poorly written novel that I published just around high school graduation. I began work on it in 2011 and published it in 2013 as “From Frights to Flaws.”

I chose the 2010 setting because at that time, I wanted my MC to not only be close in age with me, but also have technology not be too advanced or primitive. In “The Frights of Fiji,” there is even the mentioning of an iPod and the iPad getting released soon.

I know technology and times change drastically and quickly. And if I were to write an unrelated book today, I would probably set it around or close to this time.

Which brings me to my next point:

2: You never know what will happen as you live.

There is a lot of controversy and discussions on the dilemmas of writing a story in today’s world, with a pandemic and restrictions on how to live because of it. Some say set your stories in 2019 or a little earlier, and others give all sorts of chaotic advice.

Some authors change their stories to make the characters live in the covid-19 pandemic, where they have to wear face masks, socially distance, refrain from activities like kissing and traveling. I personally would avoid doing this.

Some experts even suggest omitting the pandemic from your stories in order for readers to escape from the stress we’re living through. But they also worry about it misleading future generations about what the world really experienced during 2020 and 2021. So, certain writers might just leave out the dates or years their stories take place as the pandemic could be a thing od the past once the books are finished or when people get it them.

Therefore, I am glad that I stuck with my original time setting. Readers still enjoyed the stories, regardless of the years they take place.

Although I plan to make the final installment’s last setting no later than 2019, my little (not so) secret is that… there is no pandemic happening in my book’s universe.

While we went on a global lockdown in March 2020 and lived with many restrictions since then, my characters continued to live typical lives (going to concerts, bars, etc.). I feel like after going through the difficult time that I never expected, I was uncomfortable making my characters go through that, even if I won’t publish a book set later than 2019. Also, many people crave escapism from stressful times.

There is a work of fiction that has specific dates throughout different moments of the protagonist’s life, and events of the main story take place in 2020. But the characters don’t have to wear face masks, socially distance, quarantine, or have any other pandemic restrictions. They basically live a normal life, except for the domination of advanced technology. This is the film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

All in all, those are the reasons I chose my novels’ time setting.

Book Review: A Curse of Mayhem by Sunayna Prasad

About the Book:

History, like magic, has a habit of repeating itselfIt’s been six months since thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy left magic behind for good. Or so she thought…

Then the enchanted objects that protected her disappear. Now a skeleton named Errol has cursed her with magical powers that keep getting her in trouble. Suddenly strange things are happening with disastrous effects, and if Alyssa can’t remove the magic, she will lose everything she holds dear.

In order to get rid of her unwanted wizardry, Alyssa will have to boost her bravery and confidence and determine who Errol really is. But every time Alyssa uses an enchantment, Errol is one step closer to getting his flesh back and becoming alive, and he will do anything to achieve his goals…even if it means destroying Alyssa’s happiness.

Originally published in 2016 as “Wizardry Goes Wild” and “The Unruly Curse” in 2019, “A Curse of Mayhem” is book two in the exciting and suspenseful “Magical Missions” series.

My Thoughts:

This is Book 2 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. The story follows Alyssa as she tries to lead a normal life putting magic aside. However, it is not as easy as that and soon Alyssa embarks on another missions to save herself. This time, the plot centers around her place with less focus on travel. As Alyssa tries to rid herself of her newly acquired magical powers thanks to a curse, the reader is in for an interesting adventure, making new friends along the way.

There are some new characters in the story and this makes Book 2 interesting. Alyssa is still a little hard to connect with, but this can still be ignored for the overall story. Though the writing is still pretty amateurish, the focus on the plot and storyline has improved greatly. As compared to Book 1, Book 2 is more engaging and has quite a few magical elements to it that will delight young readers. Overall, I think that this book is handled much better and young readers would enjoy it greatly!

Book Review: The Frights of Fiji (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions #1) by Sunayna Prasad

About the Book:

A world of magic and adventure awaits for 12-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer kidnaps her to an enchanted island, filled with magical creatures and technology, but also danger. It is up to Alyssa to defeat the peril and overcome the warlock.

My Thoughts:

I read and am reviewing this book as a part of the blog tour by iRead Book Tours.

I truly love reading middle grade and YA fiction! I love the feeling of adventure and the various scrapes the characters get into. This is what drove me to sign up for the blog tour and start reading this new series by Sunayna Prasad.

The Frights of Fiji is Book 1 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. In this book, we are introduced to Alyssa, a 12-year old who lives with her uncle and cousin ever since her parents passed away. Right from the beginning we are introduced to the existence of magic as Alyssa meets Simon, a talking bust and then discovers a plot that involves kidnapping her. Initially it felt weird as Alyssa tries to convince her uncle of the existence of magic. As the story progresses, we are introduced to a world of magic and magical technology, chronicled along the lines of what we have and use in general. We are introduced to various characters and the evil warlock who is plotting to capture Alyssa.

The writing is amateurish and abrupt in sections, jumping from one thought to another. The characters are not well developed and I was not able to connect with any of them, though I did like Simon a little. I also found the level of explanation into the technology used to be unnecessary and somewhat repetitive. All this made for a difficult read.

However, there are elements to the plot that have potential and make for an interesting story. There is travel to a new place, magical locations and rules that are not known to normal people and so on. I like how Alyssa and her friends work together to foil the plan of the warlock and find a solution to their predicament. Overall, this would be a one time read at best, but I am definitely going to read on to see what happens!

Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert

About the Book:

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

The story follows Princess Jiara as she deals with the death of her sister, a marriage proposal from the man her sister was previously engaged to and the responsibility to step up for the sake of her family and her people. In addition to this, Jiara has to find a way to uncover the truth behind her sister’s death and bring the murderer to justice.

Initially, I liked the concept of the book and the idea of a vengeful ghost who can actually cause harm was intriguing. As the story progresses, I like how Jiara grows as a person and her distress while trying to read and learn a new language is brought out rather delicately. However, some parts of the story were rather abrupt and the character development was not strong enough. King Raffar is interesting, but the reader doesn’t come to know him as a person. We do not also get a chance to understand how he governs or what he thinks. With a strong focus on Jiara, her struggles and triumphs, it is difficult for the reader to connect with other characters.

In terms of the plot, the author has done a good job and the surroundings are well described. The kingdoms, their locations and the people are touched upon albeit only a little, but enough to give us a sense of the places. Overall this is a light YA fantasy read that has great potential and wraps up quite well in the end. The book can be read quickly and is rather enjoyable for those who enjoy the genre!