Book Review: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts:

Legendary is the second book in the series and follows the story just after Caraval has finished. In fact, it is wonderful that this story takes up from the next day! The story follows Donatella, the younger sister as she moves forward from one Caraval game to the next. In the first, she was just a prop while her older sister Scarlett had to play to find her. Moving on from this, the two sisters are free and can try to start their lives again, but Tella has a debt to pay. As the magic and adventure unravel, the reader is once again drawn into the depths of a story where nothing is at it seems or maybe, for once, everything is as real as it seems.

Is it just a game or is it reality? These questions plague not only the characters in the book, but also the reader. The journey to discover Caraval Master Legend’s true name is also a journey of bravery, and love. Tella has many choices to make, even though her path seems clear and in the end, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ones that she loves.

Though Legendary is very well-written and a wonderful sequel, it is not as thrilling as the first book. It is a little slower with more focus on the characters and their identities. We meet a lot of new characters as well and are introduced to the sisters’ past, their family and learn many  truths about many of the people! As Scarlett struggles to find her footing between the one she loves and the one she was arranged to be married to, Tella navigates the game of Caraval again trying to find the answers she seeks. The characters are compelling, you’ll love some, you’ll hate some and there are those that fall in between.

The story is definitely worth the read and the hype and is a fitting sequel to the first, clearing up many things and giving the reader much more in the form of love and friendship. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wanting for more and will definitely force the reader to pick up the third and final book in the series, Finale!

 

Book Review: Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown #1) by Ava Richardson

I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley! Read on to know my honest opinion of the book!

About the Book:

Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown, #1)

One crown can unite them—or destroy them all.

The three kingdoms lie splintered, their aging dragon riders content with stories of glorious battle victories. But a new evil creeps across the land. Inyene, a powerful noblewoman of the Northern Kingdom, plunders valuable resources to power mechanical dragons in her quest to gain a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. From there she will ascend the High Throne, once again uniting the realms under a single crown.

For the wearer of the Stone Crown can wield unlimited power—if it can be found.

Narissea has spent a quarter of her sixteen years slaving away in the mines, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. When word reaches her of the horrors assailing her village, Narissea knows she must act despite the risk. Already her arm is scarred with four brands signifying previous escape attempts. If she’s unsuccessful in her fifth, it will mean death.

But her life forever changes when she stumbles upon an injured dragon, discovers an ancient shrine, and learns the true purpose behind Lady Inyene’s mechanical abominations.

Now, Narissea has only one choice: gain Inyene’s trust and find a way to thwart her plans, even if it means sacrificing that which she desires most of all.

Her freedom.

This book contains violence.

My Thoughts:

Dragon Connection is the first book in the Stone Crown series by author Ava Richardson. It is a well-written, fast paced, YA fantasy fiction novel that follows the life of Narissea as she navigates the mines as a slave and later embarks on a journey to find the Stone Crown. Nari is a strong willed girl, set to work in the mines as a slave along with many of her people, trapped into this situation based on falsified debts that are owed to Lady Inyene.

I particularly enjoyed how the author does not waste time building up the story, but throws the reader right into the middle of it. The author later on takes her time to explain some of the setting and give us a sense of the background of the people and the reason for their current predicament. Most of the things that happen in this book come as a pleasant surprise though some parts are a little predictable.

With a strong desire to thwart Lady Inyene’s plans, Nari embarks on a journey that involves an injured dragon, the Lady’s brother and a mage. Add to this mix some magic and we have the perfect recipe for an enjoyable read! I truly cannot wait to pick up the next book and find out what happens!

Book Review: The Circle Taken by Sage Sask

Note: I would like to thank NetGalley for the review copy.

About the Book:

Abandoned at eleven with no memory of her family, Alexia yearns to learn her true identity. Under the new government’s regime, sixteen-year-olds are evaluated for their desire to harm others. Throughout the test, Alexia struggles to conceal her secret. Failing in her mission, Alexia is taken and must fight to prove herself to her captors.

Desperate to escape, Alexia embarks on a dangerous quest for the truth of her past. In the resulting battle between life and death, Alexia learns that sacrifice and the gift she fought to keep hidden may be her only chance for survival.

A secret unearthed, a shocking betrayal, and a moment when lives hang in the balance leaves Alexia with only one choice. Will the decision determine her destiny or end her life?

My Thoughts:

The Circle is an interesting YA Dystopian read. A major part of the plot reminded me of The Hunger Games, but the story here is well-written and the characters were easy to understand. The story is quite fast paced and if the reader does not pay attention, it is easy to miss something important.

Alexia, the protagonist, has no memory of who she is or about her family for more than 5 years. She lives at an orphanage and learns to just keep her head down and move forward. When her secret is discovered, she is sent to a secret place. Here she has to fight to prove herself, to train, all the while trying to figure out who she really is. As she navigates this world and discovers it’s secrets, we are introduced to a group of people with a very specific way of thinking.

The characters are well crafted and interesting, most in their teenage years. All of them seek to befriend Alexia for different reasons, but in the end they stand together as one group. This journey is wonderful to read about. As fast-paced as the story is, a lot happens in this book and it ends at a twist leaving the reader yearning for more. I enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to the next book, mainly to discover what happens to Alexia. The questions of how she deals with the truth behind her identity and the consequences of her decisions will hopefully be answered in the next book! This book is worth a read for fans of dystopian YA fiction.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

About the Book:

Fangirl

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s learning that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

My Thoughts:

A well-written coming of age novel, Fangirl follows Cath’s journey as she navigates the world of university and discovers her identity separate from that of her twin. Lost completely in a fictional fantasy world, Cath spends most of her time writing fan-fiction revolving around the fictional characters of Simon Snow and his arch enemy Baz. Having grown up as a twin, Cath is more dependent on Wren, seemingly always in her shadow. The abandonment she feels when her mother leaves them, pushes her towards becoming more of an introvert.

This story not only brings out the contrast between the two girls, but it shows us that the world has a lot to offer if we only let it. Cath learns to find her way, forming a weird bond with her roommate, finding love and facing betrayal from a classmate. Dealing with all this makes her stronger and she learns to open up more. We are shown how the girls are quite similar yet different and the reader will come to love all the characters.

The characters are relatable and quite real, making it easy for the reader to understand them. The emotions are real and the events in the story are such that they could easily happen to any of us. On the whole this story is about getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning to live. Even though the focus is on Cath, we get a glimpse into who her twin is, how their father is coping with life and how they deal with college and growing up.

A wonderful book in the YA genre, Fangirl is worth picking up and giving in to.

Book Review: Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann

Book Details:

Book Title: Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann
Category: YA Fiction, 277 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Matt Dallmann
Release date: July 2017
Tour dates: August 6 to 24, 2018
Content Rating: G (No bad language or sex)

Book Description:

Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit Matt Dallmann’s page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Sept 5, 2018
Prizes: Win one of 100 Kindle copies (open to USA only)

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann

Tribal Affairs

by Matt Dallmann

Giveaway ends September 05, 2018.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/281737

 

My Thoughts:

Tribal Affairs is a YA novel that revolves around the lives of Dahlia, a centuries old genie, trapped in an ankle bracelet, and a sixteen year old girl, Liana. Liana wears the bracelet for the first time on the opening night of her father’s performance. Little does Liana know that this small act will have much bigger consequences.

The story is written in two different points of view, one telling Dahlia’s story through dreams that Liana has, the other are Liana’s version of the events that unfold. Matt paints a pretty informative picture of the genie world, how they live, the extent of their powers and the various tribes that exist. We also come to know of their differences in personalities and how they look upon humans.

At first it was a little difficult to catch on to the changes in narration and the sequence of events, but as the story progressed, the characters became familiar and slowly the plot started to make sense. Through all this, Liana discovers her ancestral connection to the genie’s and embarks on a journey with Taffi, a genie who turns up at her house and who claims to want to help her. It is only later that she discovers the connection between Taffi and Stefan, the person who is solely responsible for the event that set the rest in motion : the trapping of Dahlia. Additionally, Liana works to find within herself her powers and strength with the help of Taffi and her great great great great…. something grandfather, Amon.

The story is simple and a fast read. It flows easy and there isn’t anything complicated that we need to focus hard to understand. It is an interesting read and though I did not connect with some characters, Liana and Dahlia truly left an impression on me for their strength and ability to love so deeply as well as their compassion.

I would like to thank Laura Fabiani and the iRead Book Tours team for giving me this opportunity to read and enjoy this book! If you are a fan of YA fiction and genie’s and wishes being granted, do pick up this book!

Book Review: Alpha Kaden by Midika Crane

Alpha Kaden was first put up on Wattpad. The popularity of the book and it’s author led to Inkitt picking the book up for publication. It is slated to release on May17th 2017.

I was provided with a complimentary copy by Inkitt in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Alpha Kaden

“Lock your doors. Hold them tight. Close your windows. Every night. Don’t go out, in case he’s there. Always live in total fear.”

Everyone knows of Alpha Kaden, a man of twisted riddles and cryptic puzzles. His identity is one of them. His touch, another. He is feared throughout all 13 packs for his reputation of stealing young women out of their beds. And tonight he has come to steal Mara to make her a player in his wicked game.

But when Mara discovers the truth behind his sadistic mind games everything changes and she finds herself questioning what is real, and what is not. Mara always assumed her mate would be a man from her own pack. A good man. Not a sadistic, sinful Alpha named Kaden.

My Thoughts:

 I’ve picked  up a book in the supernatural genre after a very long time and it felt good to read this one. I particularly enjoy a lot of the books that are written on Wattpad and am very happy that this one is going to be published!

The story follows Mara, a werewolf from the Purity Pack, who gets kidnapped by Alpha Kaden. Alpha Kaden of the Vengeance Pack has a reputation that’s worse that just bad. With this idea in mind, Mara slowly comes to know who he really is and as the story unfolds, we come across a plot that is far deeper than a simple romance story. Many of the characters we encounter along the way, with Mara, are delightful and likable, while some we come to dislike.

The story is well written and has all elements of a romantic thriller. The focus is on so many things which makes it worth the read. The story behind Mara’s mate and how they find each other forms an integral part of the plot along with the many hidden truths that unravel. A story worth reading for all fans of the supernatural!

Check out the second book in the Esper Files series: The Sky Cult by Egan Brass

About the Book:

Esper Files: The Sky Cult (Esper Files #2)

After the events of the first book, Freya has joined the Institute – an organization created to help Espers control their powers, and she thought she’d finally found peace.

That is, until Anti-Esper weapons find their way into the hands of The Coalition, a radical group who is determined to kill anyone with powers.
At the same time, the Sky Cult has arisen, claiming that Espers have the right to rule over lowly humans.
The timing couldn’t be worse, as all of this happens three days before Esper Day, the first holiday designed to show that humans and Espers can coexist.

Now Nathan, Freya and the team have to fight both organizations in a race against time before one of the radical groups tips the scales, and plunges the entire world into their own version of Armageddon.

My Thoughts:

 Esper Files: The Sky Cult, picks up where the first book left off with Freya now a part of the institute, learning to control her powers as she tries to help keep the peace along with Nathan. After the end of the last book, we are introduced to some more villains or “the bad guys” as we normally refer to them. Their agenda at first seems quite clear, but as the story progresses, we realize that there is more to the front shown.

The Sky Cult is brought in for a specific purpose, but is that the whole point of this plot? Or is it just a diversion from the main plot line?

These are just some of the questions that may arise, but don’t worry, you’ll get your answers in due time. True to the author’s style of writing, the story is action packed from the beginning, with a lot of things happening, one of the most important being The Esper Day. As preparations go on, we are introduced to a few new characters and the truth about some of the old ones are revealed. The progression is wonderful and the story is fast-paced, ensuring that the reader remains hooked until the very end. Red Cap and The Phantom Thief are interesting characters who add more life to the story and the professor seems to be hiding more secrets than anyone. Nathan, with his ability to abosorb and replicate other Esper’s powers, once again manages to save the day, but at severe cost to his life. There are so many secrets surrounding him and his abilities and the importance Freya now has, that the story is quite intriguing. The concept of Esper’s, and the whole Institute concept reminds me of The X-Men and Professor Xavier!

The story ends with a twist as usual, leaving us with a longing for more and a rough idea of what all can happen next. There seem to be endless possibilities and this makes it even more fun to read!

Dark and sad, Paige Dearth brings out a part of life that many don’t see, in her book When Smiles Fade!

About the Book:

When Smiles Fade

Emma’s father’s coldblooded beatings and the ultimate abuse to which he subjects her, lays the foundation of the person she becomes. As she matures into a resourceful teenager, she is unwilling and unable to stifle her desire for revenge. Reaching her breaking point she can no longer control the impulse to fight back and finally takes matters into her own hands.

Having learned the art of hatred from her father and the mastery of manipulation from her mother, young Emma now sets out to make a better life for herself, leaving the memory of the abused child she had once been behind her. Hardened by the heartless brutality she encounters and the dangerous situations she must overcome in the course of her journey, she faces every challenge that comes her way in her quest for a normal life for herself and for those she loves.

Finally a person emerges from within that guides her toward a better life until she learns of a secret that sets her on the path of ultimate redemption.

 My Thoughts:

What would you do if your only option to survive is to do anything? Would you resort to killing the people who hurt you to protect the ones you love? What does it mean to be hated and hurt? How do you live in a family devoid of the basic emotion that connects them, love and trust? How does your upbringing shape who you ultimately become?

These are the kind of questions that this book raises and answers in some ways. There cannot be a right answer, it’s more of a perspective which the author brings out in a gentle manner. This is required when dealing with topics of abuse and hurt. Paige Dearth introduces us to Emma and her younger sister, who are subject to severe abuse from their father, with a mother who turns the other way through all this. To be frank, it is expected that the children will be traumatized, and that is putting it mildly. These experiences can change a person and the author portrays the same through the protagonist, Emma. She is strong-willed and resourceful while at the same time has a pleasing personality. It becomes difficult to dislike her or condemn her actions when she is after all doing her best to survive.

The people the sisters encounter along the way leave profound impacts on their lives. Some help them and end up becoming life long friends while the others end up somewhere in a ditch, and that’s putting it mildly. Everyone craves normalcy and a mundane life at times and the sisters are no different. However, tragedy seems to strike  so many times, it’s a wonder that they still find reasons to smile. In the end, Emma has the last laugh, but it was worth it all.

The author’s writing is bold and to the point and she doesn’t hold back on her descriptions. There is no stone left unturned in the journey of the sisters and Emma finally learns that you move on – “When smiles fade”! The title is apt and the reader understands this eventually. The story has a lot of smaller plot lines, with each encounter giving us a different glimpse into the characters who support this story and take it forward. The characters are well developed and clearly defined, giving the reader a clear idea of their personalities and at the same time helping us understand how they fit in.

The final question of “Will she find redemption and be happy?” is answered and I really enjoyed the way the story ended. It proved that Emma is a survivor and this is an inspiring thought. There is a lot to learn and understand in this book and I strongly recommend the same to all.

Book Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Say Goodbye for Now

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

My Thoughts:

The phrase, ‘Say goodbye for now’, also the title of the book, is a recurring point throughout the book. It is a wonderful thing that the title of a book has been incorporated throughout the plot and brings out the overall theme or point of the story.

I picked up this book after reading ‘Ask Him Why’. I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and couldn’t wait to read more. I was most surprised when upon starting this story, I found that the style of writing, the tone and pace of the story were different! This made me enjoy the book all the more apart from the wonderful plot.

The story focuses on two young boys, in their early teens, who meet by chance and decide that due to their way of thinking, that they should be friends. It was rather unfortunate that the times they lived in frowned upon friendship between them. With a town set against the newly arrived African American father and son duo, a lady doctor who cares for abandoned and hurt animals, and a young American boy who seeks her out when he finds a hurt wolf-dog lying by the side of the highway, there is a lot that can happen when we bring these four people together.

The author takes her time to bring out the personalities of each of these principal characters, as well as their backgrounds. She helps us understand what makes them tick and how they became the way they are in the present time. The author elaborates a little on the town and it’s mindset and perception of these main characters. Nothing is simple in the lives of these four people and the author takes her time in making things right. The story is told alternatively from the points of view of Pete and Dr. Lucy. The reader will get to know them very well and will feel as though even they are friends with them. As pleasing and simple as they are, they are not perfect and have their dark moments.

Pete is thoughtful and advanced in the way his mind thinks and instead of being shushed by the adults he comes to know, they encourage and nurture his inquisitive mind. His relationship with all the characters and his thoughts and feelings help to shape the direction the story moves in. Justin though different, understand Pete and plays his part in this story to perfection. The simple chemistry between Dr. Lucy and Calvin is shown with understated simplicity. It just happens, and there is no confusion or apology. The characters take all situations in their stride, including the fact that a time will come when they can be together and until then, they just have to keep living on.

The simple tones and calm manner in which things are dealt with make this story all that more pleasing. This was a wonderful read and I fell in love with every aspect of this story. The title, used extensively as demanded by the plot, will help the reader see that there is no need to end a relationship of any kind, there are times when it can just be postponed, with some understanding, care and love.

Just say Goodbye for Now!

Book Review: Ascendant (book 1) and Midheaven (book 2) by Rebecca Taylor

About the Books:

Ascendant (book 1):

Ascendant by Rebecca Taylor

When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her. I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead. I’m not the girl I should have been.

When Charlotte Stevens, bright but failing, is sent to stay at her mother’s childhood home in Somerset England her life is changed forever. While exploring the lavish family manor, Gaersum Aern, Charlotte discovers a stone puzzle box that contains a pentagram necklace and a note from her mother-clues to her family’s strange past and her mother’s disappearance.

Charlotte must try to solve the puzzle box, decipher her mother’s old journals, and figure out who is working to derail her efforts-and why. The family manor contains many secrets and hidden histories, keys to the elegant mystery Charlotte called mom and hopefully, a trail to finding her.

Midheaven (book 2):

Midheaven (Ascendant Trilogy, #2)

As Above, So Below

As the direct descendant of Francis Bacon (aka Shakespeare) Charlotte is the next Ascendant. She is destined to teach mankind the secret mysteries of alchemy.

If only she knew what those were.

With her father’s stone box, and her mother’s first key, Charlotte will quest around the world to solve the puzzle and reveal its secret.

Unless Emerick gets her first.

My Thoughts:

Since I read these books continuously, one after the other, I decided to post a combined review. In general, I enjoyed the premise of the story and the events that occurred to take it forward. The story is written decently and will ensure the reader continues on until the end. The author manages to build up some amount of mystery and intrigue.

However, the protagonist is decent at best, but she gets rather whiny and annoying. Her attentions are directed towards the two guys showering her with attention and she is torn between them in the usual cliched style. At times she comes across as shallow, and at others, someone with a strong mind. She sets out to find the meaning to the clues left behind by her parents. As the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into a world of drama, secrets, betrayal.

The story lacked in precise character development and a deeper premise than was there. It was easy to figure out what might happen next and the books did not make me want to keep turning the pages. Having said this, there are parts that are interesting and had potential. A stronger focus on the characters, creating complex personalities and a more interesting twist to the plot would have made it gripping. Though there was some adventure and mystery thrown in, it just made the story more confusing. It was just another book in the usual style of having a clue and trying to decipher it while also trying to keep it away from the bad guys.

Bottom-line: Read the book. You may or may not like it, but you can form an opinion by yourself.