Written in Red: Review

I know I’m a little late in picking up this series but in my defence I was really looking forward to those soft mass market paperbacks. Do you guys know what I’m talking about? The ones that are so flexible and bendable without actually breaking the spine and damaging the book in general. I love those. So yeah, I’ve been waiting to pick up this series in mass market paperbacks. So when I found them at a Black Friday deal at my local bookstore I was quick to purchase them. I practically devoured Written in Red and Murder of Crows this past weekend because this series is THAT good but back to Written in Red, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads.

 

No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely followwritten-in-red

 

The first thing I thought when I started reading this was this is different. And it is. In fact, it was so unique I had a bit of trouble recalibrating my brain into accepting the ways the Others thought of humans.

That being said, the things I loved most about this book was the world-building, which was done exquisitely. From the werewolf culture to the way the Others interact with humans, Written in Red presents a wholly different take on werewolf-human relations.  I also liked Meg a lot. I loved learning about this new world through her eyes. She was such a fresh take on an otherwise overdone protagonist that I couldn’t help myself but love her for it. I enjoyed her interactions with the Others and especially with Simon’s nephew Sam. Those two together were so adorable!! I think it was easier for Meg to connect with Sam because of her innate childlike innocence, which should be a testament to how well written this book is because I usually find childlike behavior in my heroines annoying.

What I didn’t like, however, was the villain(s). I found Asia Crane a tad boring and more irritating than threatening. I couldn’t be bothered with her scenes but I forced myself to power through them so I can get back to the good bits, which is not how you want your readers to feel about the bad guy in your book.

All in all, I thought this was a great start to a new UF/Paranormal series and while I found the villain a bit of a letdown it didn’t detract too much from my overall enjoyment of the book. What made me pick up the second book, however, was the fact that Written in Red didn’t jump straight into the predictable pattern of human-werewolf love and while there is an undeniable attraction between Meg and Simon, they both find each other too confusing to even entertain the possibility of a relationship between them. I, personally, cannot wait to pick up the next installments and see what Bishop has in store for us.

 

Pantomime by Laura Lam: Review

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy. pantomimecovertor

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

I received a review copy from the lovely guys over at Tor and have to admit couldn’t resist starting it the moment I got it out of the package. I didn’t really know that much about the book before I started it so I had no expectations whatsoever and I’m glad about that. This was such a unique book. There is no other way to describe it. The writing was incredibly beautiful, the characters beyond lovable and the world so well built I felt completely immersed. What impressed me most though is the character development of Gene/Micah throughout the book. The way Lam dealt with sexuality and identity was such an inspiration, especially in the context of everything that has been happening so far in 2016. And while Pantomime does deal with such important issues, there’s also action and romance and a little bit of drama, too. It is truly an enchanting mix of everything a transgender protagonist might encounter on the way to acceptance both by themselves and by society. Also, there’s a circus. I mean, how much more awesomeness can this book pack?!? In keeping up with the amazing writing, Laura Lam has managed to capture the magical essence and the awe-inspiring atmosphere of a circus. She has described that feeling of wonder you get every time you step inside a circus tent with such an ease that I cannot help but ask for more of this extraordinary journey.

The Dark Days Pact: Review

“Is he going to win?” 

“He has offered to help me, and right now I need his help.”

“Is it just his help, or are you going because you wish to be with him?” He leaned closer, face fierce. “Do you love him? Is that it?”

This book just broke me in the best way possible. Every time I read an Alison Goodman novel I am completely unable to start a new book for days after and The Dark Days Pact is no different. I have been eagerly anticipating this book since I first read The Dark Days Club and Alison Goodman did not disappoint. It was so good, in fact, that I went and reread it mere weeks after I finished it the first time. pact

The Dark Days Pact picks up where we left off at the end of the first book. Lady Helen is now officially a Reclaimer in training and a guest of Lady Margaret in Brighton. She is trying to navigate this new world and its politics to the best of her abilities and I loved seeing her struggle to reconcile her upbringing with her new role. I enjoyed her growth as a character and Goodman has done an amazing job with Lady Helen. The world she has managed to build in the first book was incredibly layered and rather unique and I was a bit worried the sequel might not live up to its predecessor. I am so happy that is not the case. The intricacies of Regency society are so well written within the paranormal context of her world I can truly believe there were Deceivers back in 1812.

What I love most about this book is how real Lady Helen feels. Despite her struggles and hesitancy at times (I would have liked to see her tell off the Duke of Selburn when he recklessly endangered everyone!) I truly believe her to be a strong heroine. The biggest surprise for me was her newfound friendship (sort of?) with Mr. Hammond and I found myself looking forward to their scenes together. Also, the romance!!! Can we talk about how deliciously torturous the romance was *sigh*. It is truly a testament to Goodman’s superb writing skills that the mere removing of a jacket can pack so much tension. This scene alone can leave the reader with an almost visceral need for the next installment, which sadly is more than a year away!

The Graces: Review

Hey, guys, work has been crazy busy these past few weeks, which is why I have not been as active as usual. However, I have finished a bunch of reviews of the books I’ve been reading in October so I will be posting them once a day next week. A full week of reviews.. I feel like I should try and group them by theme or something. Anyway back to my current post. Do you guys get that weird feeling where you pick up a book and you don’t like it at all, and then wonder for days how to review it? I had this with a bunch of books lately and I have chosen the talk about The Graces by Laure Eve. the-graces I remember when this book first got announced and everyone went crazy about it. I read the synopsis on Goodreads and thought ‘hmm, sounds interesting’. Well, I finally had the chance to pick up a copy and honestly I was a bit disappointed. A lot of my fellow bloggers have been raving about this book for months now and frankly, I cannot tell you why. The Graces has got to be one of the most boring books I have read this year and I feel really bad saying this but it is. It is so boring and slow paced, I kept wondering if something was going to happen at all. The story was reminiscent of Twilight but with witches instead of vampires and a plot, when it finally appeared, so far fetched and drawn out for the sake of a few predictable twists any reader can see from a mile away. I didn’t care for any of the characters, which is really not that surprising considering I found River incredibly annoying so naturally, I could not like anything she liked. And boy did she like the Graces. The book is actually 350 pages give or take and about 250 of those were spent on River obsessing over the Graces. Or Fenrin, the special cupcake everyone’s in love with. None of the characters were deep enough to compensate for the lack of plot which made this an incredibly difficult book to read. If you want a novel with witches, I’d give Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova a try instead.

Review: Fantasy of Freedom by Kelly St. Clare

 

“…I decide a few things will never change. 

Not my vow that I’ll never be controlled or cowed by another again.

Not my belief that I deserve freedom just as much as any other person.”

I honestly cannot put into words my feelings about this book and this series in general. I would like to thank Kelly St. Clare for writing such an amazing story and for also entrusting me with an advance copy of her awesome book. Reading Fantasy of Freedom was a bittersweet experience for me. On the one hand, I was overly excited to find out what would happen with characters I’d come to love. On the other, I was saddened because this book signified an end to a journey. And boy, what a journey it was! I honestly feel like I have spent years with these characters not the weekend it took me to binge read the first three books. This was a testament to the quality of story I was dealing with here. It gripped me from the first few pages of the first book, where I tried to figure out what rotations/sectors meant, and it didn’t let until the last page of Freedom.

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Fantasy of Freedom comes out Oct 10th.

Fantasy of Freedom picks up right where we left off at the end of the third book. Olina is dealing with the physical and emotional repercussions of the battle at the end of Fantasy of Fire. Not only was she severely wounded but she also had to reveal herself to the entire assembly. We now get to see a different side of her, a more vulnerable one but not any less stubborn and I loved how ‘Olina’ that felt. I also particularly enjoyed the development of her relationship with Jovan in this book. Which brings me to JOVAN ❤

Now, full disclosure, I wasn’t sure about that surprise death in book one. That was still fairly early in my journey through the world St. Clare had built, so I was afraid it might have been purely for the shock value of it all. I was never happier for being wrong because I loved the slow build of Jovan and Olina’s romance. A romance that reached it’s apex in Freedom in a way that made me breathless and wanting more. It’s one of those romances that made you glad you stuck by the characters for however many books just to see the resolution. It’s also easy to guess that I absolutely adore Jovan. I know, I know. A lot of people do. He’s tall, strong, handsome and a king to boot, what’s not to love. My reasons, however, are completely different and I may or may not be in the minority here. Usually, alpha maleness annoys me. I don’t like dominance and there were times where Jovan was more than protective. What I loved though was how he managed to push through those feelings, realizing Olina’s strength and need to fight for herself and that is what makes him such an appealing character for me. There is nothing more attractive than a guy who supports a strong heroine, building her up instead of dragging her down with domineering possessiveness.

Apart from the romance, Fantasy of Freedom also deals with a few other loose ends. We finally get to learn who the killer from book one is and even that is enveloped in further treachery. This installment was incredibly fast paced due to the raging war between Osolis and Glacium that had been building up for three books. The action packed scenes were everything I hoped for and more. They were well written and were not used as a substitute for further character development. If anything, it helped characters such as Olandon, grow up even more and overcome their bias towards Glacium. We also learn who Olina’s father is and I am happy to confirm… I TOTALLY KNEW IT!! Overall this book was everything I wanted to see and St. Clare did not disappoint. With her excellent world building and knack for storytelling The Tainted Accords series are sure to stay with me for weeks to come.

 

Review: First Year by Rachel E. Carter

This is such an amazing read I’m having trouble putting it down. There’s just so much badassery packed into the 270 pages. First Year follows Ryiah and her twin brother Alex as they start their path in the Academy and compete for a spot in the apprenticeship of their choice: Combat, Restoration or Alchemy. At this point you’re probably thinking, ‘Great another Harry Potter wannabe’. Make no mistake, it is nothing like Harry Potter. Yes, we follow the progress of our characters at a magical school but the Academy is brutal and requires you to be at your best at all times, which doesn’t help Ryiah since she’s barely unlocked her magic. The only reason she was even allowed to join the Academy is because her twin brother has his magic under control and knows how to use it. first-year

My favorite thing about this book is that while it’s not heavy on the action we focus a lot on relationship building and I simply loved the dynamics between Ryiah and her brother, her friendship with Ella, her almost antagonistic relationship with Darren and even the tension between Alex and Ella. Their interactions were made so real that the pace of the book was ridiculously fast despite lacking that much action.

Another huge draw for me is Ryiah herself. I enjoyed the fact that her badass status was achieved through hard work and perseverance. She works harder than anyone to get her magic and combat skills to the level of the other students and studies during the night, where she forms a tentative friendship with prince Darren. It’s pretty clear from the get go he’s supposed to be the main love interest, however, he’s not what one might call likable. On the contrary, he’s arrogant and condescending and I found myself disliking him immensely. I, personally, think Ryiah’s relationship with Darren was probably the weakest point of this book but if you enjoy love/hate relationships you’d probably like this one too.

Apart from that teeny tiny blip I enjoyed reading this book so much so I had to order the other two straight away and thanks to the lovely Rachel E. Carter you could now get a free copy of her ebook here until 27th September so make sure you claim it before then. It’s such an entertaining novel I feel everyone should read it NOW but I might be a bit biased since I adore Ryiah 🙂

The Fray Theory – Resonance

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“The existence of every reality is destiny”…”and which of these gets to be your reality…is free will”

I honestly don’t know how to review this book. It’s so completely different and unique than anything else I have read, and I love it all the more for it. The premise is centered around various theories that are cruelly not revealed until halfway through the book, which essentially means that I was blindly stumbling with no idea what was happening. I just knew things were happening and happening FAST.

I was really impressed by the writing style, which was absolutely beautiful even though it WAS bordering on purple prose at some point. I did feel all the metaphors, similes, and general descriptions kind of detracted from the potential character development, which I personally would have liked to see more of.

Speaking of characters, I absolutely loved Neve, who is one of the main protagonists we get to follow around. She’s beautiful, lovable and sassy, and just overall badass that I took an instant liking to her. She’s studying Neuroscience but she THINKS she wants to be an artist. Her boyfriend disappeared three years ago and she doesn’t quite get along with her parents. What I loved most about her is how she took everything in stride even though she had no idea what was happening for a big part of the book, she just rolled with it. We also get to meet said boyfriend, Dylan(or ex-boyfriend now). He’s wealthy, mysterious and has his moments of darkness. For the most part though he’s sweet and caring. Then there’s Romer. He was by far the most interesting of the three and my favorite. Romer is Dylan’s best friend and like Dylan he suddenly pops back up in Neve’s life after three years. I absolutely loved his dynamic with both Neve and Dylan. He has a great sense of humor despite all the horribleness in his life. He’s bitter and angry but with a good reason. You can practically feel his pain jumping from the pages. He also cares very deeply and is loyal to a fault. I loved the parts from his perspective and I think he has so much potential for the upcoming books. Someone else I liked and was intrigued by was Galen. He’s Dylan’s godfather and a therapist (also closet philosopher?) Despite him being related to Dylan we actually meet him through Neve’s eyes and there’s this one scene during her session with him that I thought he reminded me of a mixture between Morpheus from The Matrix and Dumbledore. He’s the one to shed some light on what’s happening and he did it with so much patience that I found myself asking for more scenes with him.

This whole book is one big mystery for the most part and it might leave the reader a bit confused but then everything starts falling into place and you’re left completely mind-blown. So much of the theories in there resonated with me (see what I did there, hah!) because they’re quite close to what I’ve always thought about the world. Keramati weaves a tale of science fiction and urban fantasy with some really important issues thrown in; from destiny and free will to depression and death. It’s such a spectacular roller coaster and I can’t wait for the next book.

The Fray Theory: Resonance comes out on Aug 31st and you should all grab your copies because there is no way to explain this book (in the same way you’d find it hard to explain Inception) you simply have to read it.

PS. Also, she designed her own cover. How awesome is that??

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