Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes, I like to take a break from reading heavy books and switch it up with something lighter. I find that books aimed for little kids are just adorable in the way they portray the classic good-vs-evil story with a whole host of cute characters; they can definitely be appealing if you want something light-hearted. With that, let me start my review:

Warren the 13th comes from a long line of hotel owners. He is the sole bellhop, waiter, valet, and groundskeeper for his family’s ancient hotel. Once, it was a glorious place that was always booming but now it’s more of a shadowy mansion full of crooked corridors and musty rooms. However, the hotel has a secret: it just might be the home for a magical object called the All-Seeing Eye. Can Warren make sense of all of the clues to find the treasure before his evil Aunt Annaconda does?

What a cute book! Warren is such an adorable character, and he is the sweetest kid you will ever read about! The story reminded me a little of The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken (which I’m still in the process of reading) because of its wackiness and weird plot twists. The ebook ARC version that I read had some illustrations in it but they were not always in the best format; I think the final completed version of this book has made the illustrations a lot clearer so that will be another element that kids will enjoy. This is definitely a story I can see middle schoolers enjoying because it’s got great elements, great pictures, and a great theme!

Happy reading ~

The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken – Wolves Chronicles #4

What I love about this series is that you never feel like you’ve missed anything when you wait before reading the next book. In the beginning of each book, the reader gets a chance to remember the particulars that led to this current situation, and then the story takes up and you get lost in all the action. With this particular book, the author mentions that it can be read as a standalone and has no bearing on the rest of the series. So if you are intrigued by this author but don’t have the time to read the whole series, this book is a good place to start! Anyways, enough rambling, let me get on with my review:

On her way back to London aboard the Thrush, Dido and the crew are summoned to the aid of the queen of New Cumbria. Her island has been a source of help for Britain in the past, and now she uses that connection to seek justice. When the crew arrives, they find that the island is a very unusual place, full of birds that are big enough to carry off men, and fish that eat human flesh and leave only bones as remains. The queen is greatly distressed because she believes that a neighbouring king has stolen her lake. It is up to Dido and the rest of the crew to face the many dangers that are present on this island in order to get the lake back.

In comparison to the previous books in this series, this one is definitely unique. While this novel continues in the style of alternate history, we also see unique fantasy and mythology elements. Once again, we see Dido as the star of the show. Her humor and quick wit save her time and again. I actually loved the adult characters that were introduced here as Dido’s companions; unlike the other books, most of them were quite ready to follow Dido’s directives and were a great asset to her! The plot, while not related to anything Hanoverian, was still delightfully sinister, and the evil characters were quite well drawn up! There are certain things that I found weren’t addressed fully in the book, but apart from that, this novel was just as fun and amazing as every other book in the series! I think this may be one of my favorite stories about Dido so far, but I’m going to read the next one to see if it can top this!

Happy reading ~

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I love Ami McKay. Pretty much every book I have read by her has been thought-provoking, and intense. I expected no less of this novel of hers. I was especially excited by the magic angle; I’m going through a fantasy/supernatural phase right now so this was perfect timing for me!

1880 is a dangerous time for women. In Manhattan, there are many on the lookout for witches, and any intelligent woman (witch or no) who speaks her mind is in danger of being accused of witchcraft. During times like these, Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair set up their tea shop, where they cater to the elite ladies of Manhattan, in the form of tea… as well as through palmistry and potions. Their shop is heavily frequented as both Adelaide and Eleanor are known for their discretion. All is well until one bright September day when a young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at the shop looking for employment. Beatrice soon wins over Eleanor and becomes a valuable apprentice, but Beatrice’s new life is filled with strange occurrences, especially once it becomes clear that she can see and hear things that no one else can. Has she somehow gained magical skills or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to air on the side of caution but Adelaide sees this as a wonderful new business venture. However, things go awry quickly and Beatrice is put in danger. In a time when being a woman is the most dangerous thing in the world, will these three witches survive?

As usual, the story was spell-binding and filled with wonderful intricate details. I really liked how the author had newspaper articles and pamphlets inserted into the story to help build the setting up. This is a very feminist-oriented novel that sheds light on the plight of women in the 1800s, during a time when being forthright and asserting one’s rights were frowned upon. The blend of history with magic was masterfully done and quite enjoyable to read. I did find that the story moved at a slower pace than what I am used to by this author, but the tension was palpable throughout and it kept me going all the way until the end. There were certain story plots that I felt could have been explored in greater depth, but overall this story was very good, and I was pleased with my experience! Here’s to more novels by Ami McKay!

Happy reading ~

Blood Divine by Greg Howard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YAY VAMPIRES!!!! As usual, I got super excited when I read the blurb for this novel. Vampires and witches and biblical connections… it’s got everything I’ve ever wanted all rolled into one. And if you haven’t already noticed, I read a lot of fantasy/paranormal/science fiction stories! So here is my review:

Cooper Causey has spent his entire life trying to stay away from his hometown in South Carolina, with its demons and supernatural forces. As it is, it’s all he can do to control his own powers that resides deep within him. But when his grandmother leaves a panicked voicemail to Cooper, he knows he must return. And when he does, it is only to discover that his childhood home is empty – his grandmother is now missing. As Cooper searches for her, he uncovers the truth behind his peculiar ancestry and finds himself a pawn in the middle of an ancient war between two supernatural forces. And the only way to protect those he loves is to embrace his own dark powers and choose the “right” side in this epic battle.

This novel has received a great deal of positive reviews, which, frankly, I’m quite surprised by. It isn’t that this novel is terrible … but I didn’t think it was very good either. The story was fast-paced…. a bit too fast-paced, in my opinion. Things were happening so quickly and not enough of a background was being established. There was just a very simple summary of the existence of these two supernatural races; I felt that there could have been more detail, more discovery about the origins and just a little bit more time for the reader to digest all of the connections. While it was still interesting, the origin seemed too simplistic for me to enjoy.

The main character was funny and foolhardy and definitely in love with his childhood friend. I didn’t mind any of those things. What I did mind was the constant reference to these powers that he apparently has had since he was a child, which he has kept hidden. There were very brief mentions of how it manifested in his childhood, and throughout the entire story, any mention of his abilities made me feel like I was missing out on some crucial detail that everyone else seemed to know.

I love reading about different characters. But there is such a thing as too many characters, especially when they are all thrown into the mix helter-skelter. With every forward movement in the story, there were other characters being introduced. And because of the fast pace and the barrage of new personas, I felt like I didn’t really get a deeper look into each character. Maybe that’s what the author wanted, maybe it was meant to just be taken at face value with nothing deeper going on, but I prefer my characters to have more to them than just what meets the eye.

Overall, this novel overwhelmed me with its rapid pace and its cast of characters. It underwhelmed me with its lack of depth in origin stories and its simplistic and stereotypical plot twists. If you are looking for a quick supernatural story with lots of action, then check this novel out. But if it is depth you want, then look somewhere else.

Happy reading ~

 

 

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I’ve always loved The Wizard of Oz. I’ve watched the movie and I’ve even read Gregory Maguire’s books on Oz. So naturally, when I saw this book, I had to read it!

Amy Gumm doesn’t have the most ideal life. Living in Kansas in a trailer with her drug-obsessed mom has made her grow up much too quickly. When a tornado hits, Amy finds herself transported to Oz, a land she only knows about from the movie. But this isn’t the Oz she has heard of. For one thing, everything is dull instead of vibrant. Also, everyone looks miserable and terrified of Dorothy. It turns out that Dorothy came back from Kansas and has become power-hungry, seizing all of the magic in the land and using it for evil. Now, Amy has been recruited by the Order of Wicked to defeat Dorothy. For the only way to save Oz is for Dorothy to die.

This is definitely a teen novel and it’s something you can tell by the style of writing. But it is extremely addictive. The book ends on a cliffhanger and leaves just the perfect amount of unanswered questions. Amy is sarcastic and cynical, the perfect teenage hero and that’s what really sells this novel. I will say that there were some parts that weren’t written as well as I would have liked, namely the time period when Amy was growing and changing. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. All in all, I enjoyed the book immensely and I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series!

Happy reading ~

Half Bad by Sally Green

I’ve heard a lot of controversial things about this book. Okay, maybe controversial is a strong word to use for a fantasy novel. What I mean to say is that many people have mixed feelings about this book. Quite a few of the reviews I read said it was terrible or that it was boring. But I decided to give it a go anyways because I firmly believe in making up my own opinion. So here is my review!

This story takes place in England where witches are in abundance, completely unbeknownst to the humans around them. The world of witches is divided into two groups: white witches who are said to practice good magic and black witches who do bad magic. Nathan has the misfortune of being half-Black and half-White. He is ostracized by everyone in the White community and his only hope is that his powerful Black witch father (who he has never met) will come and take him away. Even as he fantasizes about this reunion, the White witch council is hunting him, going so far as to lock him up in a cage until his seventeenth birthday. For he must receive his three witch gifts by then – or die.

Although I can understand why people may not like this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the mix of modern England with something as archaic as old magic. The characters were strong and Nathan’s journey took him literally EVERYWHERE. The torture scenes were very well-written and quite graphic! I honestly cannot wait to read the sequel because I really need to find out what will happen to Nathan next! I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for something addictive and fantasy related!

Happy reading ~