Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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V I C I O U S

Author: V.E. Schwab

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adult, Paranormal

Published: Sept. 24, 2013 by Tor

RATING: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?


 

MY REVIEW:

OK… Deep breaths, Jay, deep breaths.  Continue reading

Blog Collaboration Day 1: Caraval Audiobook Review

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HEY, EVERYONE!

Today let me introduce to you a 3-day collaboration post with my best friend, Bea @WhenCuriosityKilledTheCat.

You might be wondering why we’re doing this out of the blue, but we’ve both agreed that we need to break from our normal routine and post something other than pure reviews. We’ve planned on doing this earlier, but because of personal matters and other holdups, we kept pushing back our schedule. But now, finally, we can get this out of our systems.

(Note: We’re just using this alliance to share our fangirling over Caraval. XD)

For now, we’ll start with giving our own respective reviews of Caraval. I’ll share my thoughts about its audiobook while Bea gives hers on the paperback version. Visit her at When Curiosity Killed The Cat to know what she thinks!

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ALRIGHT…

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CARAVAL

Author: Stephanie Garber

Narrated by: Rebecca Soler

Format: audiobook

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Published: Jan. 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books

RATING: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Synopsis: 

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

 

Listen to an excerpt here.

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Story-wise, Caraval has to be one of the most compelling plots I’ve ever come across. I was thrilled in a way I’ve never been, and to think I am not much of a fan of circuses and carnivals, this is really saying something indeed. Not only is it just a magical game, it’s an elaborate performance as well. My feelings got so easily tangled with its twists and turns. It feels as if I was being driven mad along with the main character Scarlett.

Aside from the game, it was also fun trying to figure out the other characters, especially Julian. He makes you suspicious one moment and trusting the next. Back and forth it goes, until you can no longer decide which is real and which isn’t. Same goes for the rest. Tella surprised me the most, but it was ultimately Legend who had me wondering most of the time. I waited for his appearance to come, and when it did, I was both disappointed and not. (You’ll know what I mean when you read the story.) And Scarlett – I love how far she would go for her sister. But sometimes she drives me nuts with the marriage thing and her obsession with finding her sister. I wanted her to have fun and be more adventurous. But from her point of view, I can totally understand how this may be a little difficult. Anyway, the whole cast of characters were fantastic and memorable. I love how Garber made each one of them shine – even the minor ones.

I also like the world Garber crafted for Caraval. Enchanting, magical, bizarre, whimsical and so utterly full of random surprises – it was a world that was so dizzyingly easy to lose yourself in. The descriptions were incredible to the point I can almost visualize them vividly. That’s how good Garber’s writing was.

And combine all that with Soler’s narration – you have got a masterpiece.

To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting Caraval to live up to its hype. I even tried to stay away from it like it’s a plague. Then one day, out of nowhere, I just decided to open its audiobook version and started listening. Ten seconds into the audiobook, I knew I had a winner.

I think what really gripped me first was the childhood, dream-like quality in Soler’s voice when she was emulating Scarlett, writing her first letters to Legend. That was the only trigger I needed to keep going. I was truly amazed and enthralled by Soler’s performance. There were times when her accents slip, but then she blows me away with her soulful delivery.

She made an already compelling story even more compelling; she captured the essence of each character and gave them the most suitable voice; she just —- she simply brought to life the magic of this story. As a listener, I couldn’t have asked for more.

If it weren’t for the audiobook, I never would’ve guessed how great Caraval is. Until now, even after weeks of finishing it, it still excites me to hear about anything Caraval-related. This book really made me want to grab a copy of the real thing. And to those of you who’ve already read Caraval, I urge you to listen to the audiobook as well if you want an amplified experience. 🙂

 

P.S. If you read and loved Caraval, you might also wanna try A Crown of Wishes by Rokshani Chokshi. It’s the sequel to The Star-Touched Queen but can still definitely pass as a standalone. It has a somewhat similar plot to Caraval. They both have a pair of characters participating in a magical game wherein the winner gets one impossible wish as a prize. But before you get any doubts, I assure you – these two books are totally unique and set apart from each other. If you still doubt me, you can go ahead and read both books and see for yourself. 😉

 

Thanks for reading this post, lovelies! We’ll be back tomorrow. 😉

 

Blog Tour: The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari


The Best Kind of Magic

by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

RATING: 4 stars 

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Synopsis:
Amber Sand isnot a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works ather mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and willappeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
 

Continue reading

Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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The School for Good and Evil

Author: Soman Chainani

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date Published: May 14, 2013

Date Started: Jan. 1

Date Finished: Jan. 2

Rating: 2 stars (⭐⭐)

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


MY REVIEW:

Hi, Lovelies!

I’m back again for another review.

The School for Good and Evil is basically a tale of two girls, Sophie and Agatha, who gets kidnapped like all the other children before them and taken into the fabled school that trains kids to be heroes or villains. Every year, it’s always a pair that gets taken. One good and one evil. However, Sophie gets put into the School of Evil while Agatha is placed into the School of Good. They think it’s a mistake, but what if it wasn’t?

I first learned about this book from a friend of mine who only told me a little about it. The book is 488 pages long, written in multiple POVs. Has a deceptively charming cover, a fast-paced writing style, engaging dialogues and fairytale themes.

While the story is certainly promising, I wasn’t sold on the writing. There had been too many issues for me. One, I cannot keep up with the events in the story. There are times when the scenes change abruptly or too fast, and the author inserts plot twists that really don’t fit in, and you don’t know which character is saying which line anymore. It’s all very confusing. Add to that, the story is super LONG, so I would advise anyone attempting to read this book NOT to read it if you don’t have the patience.

On a positive note, I did like the absurdity and humor of this book. You can’t help but laugh along at Sophie’s notions of being ‘good’, Agatha’s exasperation, the silliness of their classes, and other ridiculous things that should annoy you but would entertain you instead. It was also interesting to see how Agatha and Sophie’s friendship would turn out, seeing as how different they are and the schools they were put in. Their friendship is mainly one of the reasons I continued reading and haven’t DNF’ed the book.

Overall, The School for Good and Evil makes a really entertaining read if not for the writing issues and unreasonable plot twists that I mentioned above. In fact, the whole time I was reading, it felt like I was watching a CARTOON instead of reading an actual book. At least this book IS really meant for children though I highly doubt that it actually sends the right message, since the girls here highly depend on boys and the concept ‘good and evil’ was taken too pettily.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review! 

(I think I’ll be doing a book tag next time soon ’cause I miss doing ’em. 😉 Anyone care to recommend some?)

Later, lovelies!

Blog Tour: Seasons Within by Lele Iturrioz (Review + Giveaway)

Seasons Within
Lele Iturrioz
(Acorn Publishing)
Publication date: December 15th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Most teenage girls know their name, where they came from, who they are. Not G, a beautiful redhead with unusual markings on her wrist. She gets her name from a silver locket she keeps around her neck, unaware the engraved letter “G” on its front holds the secret to her past.

G’s life before the age of six has been a mystery to her. Each night for the last twelve years she’s been haunted by the same nightmare—a war. Horrendous beasts, warriors able to wield the four elements, and a boy who saves her by means of blue fire taunt her memory. But on her eighteenth birthday, G’s life begins to unravel. When she meets her new Chemistry professor, a man with an uncanny resemblance to the boy who saves her, she knows there must be more to her dreams.

It’s dangerous not knowing who you are, what you’re capable of, and what future awaits you. Especially when the darkness that slaughtered your entire world, just found you.

Goodreads / Amazon


REVIEW

THIS – I JUST GOT TO HAVE THIS.

What can I say? Lele Iturrioz’s debut novel was just GREAT. It was entertaining, magical, imaginative and above all, it has an awesome set of characters.

I also found the cover very attractive, but what REALLY lured me in was this book’s sense of humor. I cannot count how many times one of the characters or scenarios made me laugh, both silently & out loud.

What I also love about this book is the camaraderie among G’s guardians. They’re the kind of people you want to hang out with. No formalities at all. The type that reminds me of Rhysand’s Inner Circle, the bonds between Fairy Tail members – all of them are just super amazing people even without the magical abilities.

G as the main character of the whole story was mediocre.However, she SHONE because of the presence of the other characters around her and her interactions with them. I enjoyed their banters, their relationships – everything. I also appreciate the fact that not everyone is pleased with her either, even thought they’re supposed to be her allies. It somehow creates a balance between the two.

I’m also fond of the romance here. G and Edan make a great pairing since they always clash against each other. But then there’s also Veter and Shui – personally, I think they’re more of my favorite than team Gaidan. But that’s only because I find Veter’s gestures so sweet and cute to the point that I was almost jealous of Shui. Really, these guys just make me want to sigh. Anyways, I’m glad that I have another couple to add to my list of favorite OTPs ever.

I should also special mention Priyam – G’s forever sarcastic and witty best friend. But besides the fun and liveliness she brings into the group, I just love her friendship with G. Theirs felt like one of the most genuine fictional friendships I’ve ever encountered.

And the writing? Spot-on! The pacing is just right, and the mood and the tone of the story kept me hooked right to the end.

I had been looking for a fantasy book that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside and Lele Itturioz’s Seasons Within was just perfect. Cured me of my ongoing two-week reading slump, even.

I just have two main issues with this book: 1) minor errors with the grammar and wording (though that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the entire book) and 2) I wasn’t intimidated enough by the antagonists in the story. However, there was something in the ending that made the main villain more interesting and piqued my curiosity.

Overall, Seasons Within was a very interesting and well-done story that gave me so much good vibes until the very end. I seriously can’t wait to read the next book and I just hope that the author never loses her knack for humor in the coming sequel. Highly recommended, I wish this book gains more popularity and appreciation with time.

Bonus: So this is what sugar gliders look like huh, now I know. But still… do they eat sugar cubes? (Note: Only those who’ve read the book will get it. 😂)

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RATING

5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Author Bio:

Major geek by day, hermit writer by night! Love books, sugar gliders and everything that comes in a delicious taco.

I’m the author of the YA fantasy series, Seasons Within

I spend my time writing, planning on writing, reading, drinking coffee like there was no tomorrow, MMA and chilling with my friends and loved ones.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY!

(just click the link below)

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Blog Tour || Queen of Chaos by Kat Ross (Spotlight + Giveaway)

Queen of Chaos
Kat Ross
(The Fourth Element #3)
Publication date: January 18th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Persepolae has fallen.

Karnopolis has burned.

As the dark forces of the Undead sweep across what remains of the empire, Nazafareen must obey the summons of a demon queen to save Darius’s father, Victor. Burdened with a power she doesn’t understand and can barely control, Nazafareen embarks on a perilous journey through the shadowlands to the House-Behind-the-Veil. But what awaits her there is worse than she ever imagined…

A thousand leagues away, Tijah leads a group of children on a desperate mission to rescue the prisoners at Gorgon-e Gaz, the stronghold where the oldest daēvas are kept. To get there, they must cross the Great Salt Plain, a parched ruin occupied by the armies of the night. A chance encounter adds a ghost from the past to their number. But will they arrive in time to avert a massacre?

And in the House-Behind-the-Veil, Balthazar and the Prophet Zarathustra discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. But is it enough to redeem the necromancer’s bloodstained soul and thwart his mistress’s plans?

As a final showdown looms with Queen Neblis, the truth of the daēvas’ origins is revealed and three worlds collide in this thrilling conclusion to the Fourth Element series.

Goodreads / Amazon


Previous books in the series:

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Secret Of A Heart Note by Stacey Lee || What If Love Was Just Right Under Your Nose?

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T H E   S E C R E T   O F   A   H E A R T   N O T E

Author: Stacey Lee

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, Magical Realism

Published:  December 27th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

Synopsis:

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs. Continue reading

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill || The Long Wait Is Over

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E V E R   T H E   H U N T E D

A U T H O R : Erin Summerill

G E N R E : Fantasy, YA

P U B L I C A T I O N : December 27th 2016 by Harcourt Childrens Books

F O R M A T : eARC

S O U R C E : NetGalley

S Y N O P S I S : Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

(**Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of Ever The Hunted in exchange for an honest review.)


MY THOUGHTS

Can you tell this isn’t going to be a positive review?

Maybe not.. but I just feel like warning you ahead.

Despite my initial confidence, I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in a book than in Ever the Hunted. Just ask my best friend. She knows how gaga I’ve been over this book since the first time I saw it. And yet, when I finally managed to grab my hands on an ARC, the excitement dwindled down as I read the first few chapters.

It only got progressively worse the farther I read. There were so many things that prevented me from enjoying it such as the plot, the characters and the writing itself. I found myself glazing over some of the pages which doesn’t usually happen, even with terrible books. The pace was agonizingly slow.. and inconsistent. And most of the plot elements used in the story are ones I’ve already encountered before.

I also found a lot of contradictions within the story, such as Britta and Cohen’s characters. They’re supposed to be two of the best hunters in the kingdom and yet they didn’t convince me. They were far too impatient, reckless and overdramatic – traits that just don’t coincide with my idea of a real hunter. To top it all off, Britta keeps getting complimented for every little thing or deed she does, which in my opinion, isn’t much.

And then there’s the romance. I’m pretty sure either Lief or Captain Omar would make much more interesting love interests for Britta. Unlike Cohen, I understood their personalities in the short pages they appeared in. Cohen, though, is your typical handsome, young guy who thinks he knows what’s best for a woman, and among other things, a blasted hypocrite. I plainly dislike him. It’s getting tiresome to keep hearing the I-just-don’t-want-you-to-get-hurt kind of excuse, which in this case, is not even convincing anymore. I’m also irritated by the way Britta acts around him. She always acts like a flustered high-school girl. Even when she gets mad at him, her anger melts right away after a little groveling on Cohen’s part. It’s a wonder how my eyes managed to stay in their sockets the whole time I’m reading one of their cheesy scenes. ‘Cause I swear, they made me roll my eyes heavenwards. My point is, the romance aspect just seems to overwhelm the entire plot and I’m sick of Britta gushing nonstop over Cohen when all I wanted was for the story to focus on the hunt and the impending war.

The hunt – if you could call it hunt – was solved in about one-third of the book. Early on, I already guessed who the real murderer was and sure enough, I was right – though it took the characters to figure it out only in the last chapters. The predictability of it all just took the joy out of me and just led me to resign myself into seeing through this book. In some ways, this book also reminded me of The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins, which to be honest, was a lot better since it had an element of surprise and more reasonable plot twists. In Ever the Hunted, the author took out one of my favorite characters – one of the ONLY FEW – which just made everything worse.

It’s just a shame because most people in the minority like me thought this book had a lot of potential. There’s a lot of major adjustments needed to be made and I could only hope that the final edits and the sequel would be infinitely better.

So if you’re looking for a high fantasy or a great adventure, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I think Ever the Hunted would appeal to readers who are newer to the genre, and most especially to girls looking for a fantasy-romance (though the romance in my opinion isn’t really much great).

I’m still open to reading Summerill’s books, don’t get me wrong. I’m just disappointed that this didn’t turn out to be the debut novel I was hoping for.


R A T I N G

Dreadful (⭐)

Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle || Book With A Greek Myth

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S U M M E R L O N G

A u t h o r : Peter S. Beagle

P u b l i s h e d : September 6th 2016 by Tachyon Publications

G e n r e : Fantasy, Magical Realism, Contemporary, Mystery, Adult

F o r m a t : eARC

S y n o p s i s : Beloved author Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn) returns with this long-anticipated new novel, a beautifully bittersweet tale of passion, enchantment, and the nature of fate. Continue reading