In An Emerging Threat, we meet two men who try to find the source of the darkness spreading across the Islands, a fantasy realm. One of them is Oliver, a young scholar. When the citadel where he lives is destroyed by strange creatures, and everyone he knows dies during the attack, Oliver is an orphan in the truest sense of the word. He has no one to turn to, no one to guide him – nothing except a map left by his master. He goes on a journey, following the map’s route, wanting to find the creatures that destroyed his life.
On the other hand, we have Ethan, who is warrior, a prince of Astar. It’s responsibility that drives him to find the source of the darkness spreading across his world. He has a strong sense of justice, a sense for what he believes is right. While based on the plot one would think Oliver would be more sympathetic (as princes can be stuck up, and Oliver is all alone, which draws sympathy) it’s actually Ethan who comes across as the most sympathetic character, and ultimately, my favorite. It’s understandable though. Oliver is an academic, brave in his own way but not driven by justice as Ethan is. He’s also often sad about what happened – which is, of course, a natural reaction. Both characters are entertaining in their own way, and I enjoyed reading about both their struggles and journeys, but for some reason, Ethan’s story just appealed to me more. I think it’s the “quest for justice” thing, or just that his personality seemed more interesting.
The world building is okay. We only get a little of it, and I assume more will be revealed in later books. The character development was all right, and the plot moved swiftly, but because it’s a short read and the pace was so fast, the book was finished before I could start to really enjoy it.
So far, the book offers a promise for more interesting things to come, and it’s a good start to a new series. Recommended to fantasy fans....more
In Divine Scales, Patricio might be an angel, but he’s definitely not angel. He yearns for the souls of evil-doers, but the families of his victims sing his praises because of a witch’s curse. The story offers an intriguing spin on the Little Mermaid fairytale, intriguing characters and a well-executed premise. Patricio is a complicated character, hard to connect with at first, but once you get to know him better, he turns out to be not as bad as one would think.
Marcela starts out as your typical love-struck heroine, but once you figure out that her over-the-top obsession is due to a spell, it turns all the more intriguing. Kind of like in the Little Mermaid, she trades her tail and voice to the sea witch, in exchange for the legs she needs to walk on land. But this magic also caused the witch’s curse that enchanted her in the first place, to be broken.
I can honestly say this book has one of the most original premises I’ve ever read. Angels and mermaids? That’s a first. And then the whole spin on the Little Mermaid, one of my all-time favorite fairytales (although the original always makes me cry). The writing is sublime. Both main characters are equally complex and intriguing, and the romance between them is sizzling. The drama is real here, not over-the-top exaggerated like in some romance novels. The character’s feelings sound realistic. The plot offered quite a few surprises.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance story with plenty of fantasy elements thrown in, and heaps of creativity....more
One of the Amazon reviewers compared this book to Steven Erikson’s “Malazan” books, and I couldn’t agree more. Outcasts of the Worlds holds the promise of something epic, of something extraordinary, providing a great balance between excellent plot and characters.
We followed different characters on different worlds, and based on the premise I thought this would complicate things, but actually it works rather well. Flynn was my favorite character. He’s struggling with so many things at once – coming to terms with his past, daring to face his future, his quest about his inner self to find out the man he chooses to be, all that makes him one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever come across. The other host of characters we’re introduced to are interesting too, but they don’t reach the level of intrigue Flynn does.
The author does manage to introduce all characters in an unique way, not “seemingly at random”, but instead it all makes sense in the greater plot. The world-building is spot on as well, allowing the author to explore additional worlds in the next book in the series, and yet providing enough background setting to be believable.
The writing was enjoyable overall, and especially during the action scenes, it was top-notch.
I would recommend this book to all fans of science-fiction and fantasy. If you like solid world building and interesting characters, you’ll enjoy this one....more
The moment the synopsis of The Leopard Vanguard mentioned the Roman Empire and Caligula, I knew I had to read this one. And it even has tons of Latin! I took Latin classes at college, and I’m a huge fan of the Roman Empire and the matching era, so of course I wanted to dive into the world of the Leopard King Saga. It certainly didn’t dissapoint.
We’re introduced to Tullus, a Roman Centurion has only recently been promoted to be a member of the Praetorian Guard, but just a few months later, he already wants to resign, and start a new life with a woman he fell in love with. Things don’t go as planned though, and Tullus ends up setting out ofr his new life all on his own. He decides to join the circus and learn more about his magical talents. He befriends a man named Paullus, the circus ringmaster, and a magical leopardess Celestra who becomes his new partner in the circus. Tullus re-invents himself as the Leopard King, a famous entertainer.
But then, Paullus is killed, and the other members of the circus swear they’ll figure out who was behind the murder. Before he very well realizes it, Tullus and Celestra are immersed in layers of polictical intrigue, and have to face Paulllus’ killers, while they search for a deadly secret with the power to destroy the Empire.
I pride myself on my knowledge about the Roman Empire thanks to hours and hours of classes on the subject, but the knowledge T.A. Uner possesses about that era, is truly astonishing. Everything works: from the corruption, the political intrigue, to the day-to-day tasks. The portrayal is so accurate it’s almost scary, and I could certainly imagine living in that era along with Tullus, Celestra and everyone else.
It’s the little details that make this book shine, like the historical accuracy, the Latin, the names. It all works well – so bonus points for excellent world building.
The plot and characters are solid too, and some of them turned out to be quite surprising, showing more depth than I’d thought at first, or showing their hidden colors as the book progressed. The writing was good too, slightly wordy at the start but that seems to match the genre (with it being fantasy), so no real complaints there either.
I look forward to reading the sequel. Highly recommended to anyone who’s a fan of the Roman Empire....more
From the synopsis, one wouldn’t expect Shawndirea to be an epic fantasy story, but it is. Ben Whytten is an entomologist and one day, instead of capturing a butterfly, he captures a fairy named Shawndirea. And not just any fairy – Shawndirea is destined for the throne of Elvendale. But Ben accidentally ruined the fairy’s wings when catching her. He vows to take her back to her home, a realm named Aetheaon. To get to that realm they must pass through a portal rift in a haunted cavern called Devil’s Den.
Once he passes into Aetheaon, Ben comes across a whole set of characters, some good, but most evil, and out to hurt Shawndirea and stop her before reaching her kingdom. Pretty much any fantastical creature passes the line, from wizards to zombies, to immortals looking to gain power. The book is definitely on the darker side of fantasy, and hosts not only an interesting cast of characters but also an engaging plot about a journey slightly reminiscent of the one Frodo makes in Lord of The Rings, and filled with thrilling adventures along the way.
With great writing and an amazing amount of creativity, Leonard D. Hilley II makes his characters and plot shine....more
Cursed Heroes: The Beginnings is the story of another universe, parallel to our own, which has fallen into chaos thanks to greed and lust for power. It’s up to the Brothers Will, a group of unconventional heroes to keep the balance of power so the universe isn’t overrun by complete chaos. This book tells the beginning of their story, where they came from, how they evolved, as it follows the struggle of one young boy.
The story is engaging, and quite short, the length of a novella. But the characters are established well, and the world-building is all right too.
An entertaining book with fast-paced writing....more
This book was pretty amazing. I LOVE Robin Hood. It’s always been one of my favorite stories, and I loved this fresh take on it, with Scarlet posing as a boy in Robin Hood’s gang of thieves, and slowly falling for Robin. Robin was amazing too. This is one of the best romances I’ve read in a while. Great story!...more
Imagine King George III as a vampire. Now, imagine a steampunk, dark fantasy world, in which people worship the gods of Industrialism, as opposed to the rest of Europe, which still practises christianity.
The novel starts off by introducing us to the three main characters as youngsters: Nicholas, James and Isambard. When something terrible happens, Nicholas and James are shocked, but Isambard gains a strange connection to the machines that rule their world. He becomes an engineer, and gains royal favor as a result, while he works with the mechanical creations that have him mesmerized.
Numerous years later, Nicholas returns to the Engine Ward, a district in the heart of London, where he starts to work for his childhood friend. But as Isambard wants to set up a Wall, that would shut out the dragons (yes, you read that out) that threaten the city, and he gets the approval of the King, he begins to suspect something is wrong. He informs Nicholas of his suspicious that the king wants to use the wall not to protect the citizens of London, but to keep them locked inside while he unleashed an army of Sunken: flesh-eating monsters.
You can’t say that The Sunken doesn’t have an element of originality – it’s easily one of the most original books I’ve ever read. And the most amazing part is how skillfully S.C. Green manages to combine all the elements of this book: flesh-eating monsters, vampires, alternative history, steampunk machines, and dragons. When you read it like that, you’d never think it works, but it does. The London the author creatures is a dark and threatening place, but at the same time it’s also vibrant and lively, and one of the most thrilling fantasy settings I’ve read about.
I loved Isambard – he was my favorite main character, because he’s just so complex. It ward hard to think about what he’d do next. That’s not to say the other characters aren’t complex either, for example, Nicholas has a few struggles of his own and has some tough choices to make.
The writing was excellent, the characters engaging, the plot suspenseful from start to end. There aren’t enough words to say what an amazing read this is – I’d recommend you just pick it up and see for yourself. ...more
This isn’t exactly a retelling. None of the characters from the old fairytale keep their personalities – not even the story stays the same. I would’ve been able to live with all that, had it not been for how these new characters were completely and utterly immature, especially Izzie. Dialogue was cringe worthy, and overall, I had to force myself to continue reading....more
Steampunk is either hit or miss with me, and this one was definitely hit. Lena is a great character with an interestin personality. The world-building is solid and the writing is great. This is one of those books that’ll leave you thinking even after you finish reading....more
The book is interesting, and once you get past the first few chapters (it starts out okay, but turns boring rather quickly), make it through half of the book, and all the heaps of world building, then the story picks up. Unfortunately it waits too long for that moment, so while it’s an okay read, it’s nothing special. The world building intrigued me though, so I may have to pick up the sequel....more
I’m absolutely and utterly in love with the Lockwood & Co series. When I reviewed the first book, The Screaming Staircase, I had no choice but to give it a 5-star rating, considering it was easily one of the best books I’d ever read. The Whispering Skull, the sequel, is no different at all.
The world Jonathan Stroud has created in his books is downright amazing. It’s an alternative version of London, one overshadowed by ghosts and other entities. In the sequel, Lucy, Anthony and George are back, and they’re still struggling with Visitors, quarrelling with Kipps, and trying hard to establish a reputation for themselves amongst the other, more reputable agencies. Fortunately they’re in a better position than in the first book – after solving The Screaming Staircase case, their reputation has vastly improved, and they get more job offers.
Then a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor with a bad reputation. The trio shows up for the excavation, and all goes well – until George’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he takes a closer look at an object hidden inside the coffin. Afterwards, George acts strange, but neither Lockwood nor Lucy looks for anything behind it. That is, until they hear the contents of the coffin have been stolen by a thief – and the object inside the coffin is potentially more dangerous than anyone realizes.
On top of that, the ghost jar starts acting up again. Lucy is the only one who can hears its whispers, but this time around, the jar seems to have an even more sinister message from the beyond.
As inspector Barnes asks for the trio’s help to locate the stolen object, he also enlists Kipps and his team – and the challenge is on. But if they want to defeat the evil hidden inside the coffin, they may have to find a way to work together, or this might be the one job that’ll get them killed.
Lucy, Lockwood and George are amazing. I loved their dynamics in the first book, and here, they’re spot on again. Lockwood is still as secretive as ever, but part of the veil covering his past, is lifted. We see him in a more positive daylight, not just some Indiana Jones-type who doesn’t care much for his companions. Lucy is a lucky girl to work with him, that’s all I’m saying. Talking about Lucy, she is still struggling with her own powers, and part of what makes her interesting is how real the struggle feels. She’s afraid of her abilities, afraid sometimes of the ghosts closing in on them, and that fear is real and palpable. I also liked her bickering with George – you’d think the two of them would get better along after what happened in the first book, and maybe they do, but only up to some point. There’s still too different to really get along.
The plot is fast-paced, and once again, completely blew me away. Everything about the book screams originality, from the setting to the plot (creepy object found in coffin, and the trio having to run all across London to retrieve it) to the characters. The world-building is hands down amazing, and the author should get an award for that feat alone. Everything matches, everything works, and the end result is simply amazing.
This is my favorite series ever, and I can’t wait to read the next part. Mr. Stroud, you better get writing, or I might have to sent a Type 3 your way. ...more
An excellent read. The author transports readers to a magical world crawling with monsters, magic, and power. The Darkling is easily one of my favorite villains of all tme. The writing is sublime, the world-building outstanding....more
This was a darkly mesmerizing story about the fae. The story mixes romance with great writing and some solid secondary characters. My only pet peeve was that Jenny, the main character, was rather bland. I do look forward to reading the next book though....more
I loved this book. Monstrous Beauty combines two paranormal creatures: mermaids and ghosts. While it seems a surprising combination, it actually works. The book travels between two timelines, each one equally convincing. Solid writing, amazing characters....more
The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #1: The Magic Box, is a quirky little mystery. It starts out with ten-year-old Max Monroe who discovers the Monroe Detective Agency in his grandpa’s backyard. The agency is haunted by Uncle Larry, his grandpa’s dead brother and former detective. When a case shows up about a missing girl, the ghost of Uncle Larry, and Max, team up to save the day. They head over to the birthday party of the missing girl, and try to find her, talking to possible suspects and finding out what happened to make her dissapear.
The story moved quickly – too quickly. Sometimes I couldn’t follow, and heck, if I can’t, then there’s no way a child can keep up. It hopped from here to there, and the chapter titles were annoying too. They didn’t look different enough from the regular font, and they predicted what would happen next, taking away some of the suspense.
The illustrations were a nice addition though. They looked nice as well, so the art definitely isn’t the issue here.
The characters were flat – uncle Larry, grandpa and Max basically all had the same personality – and the plot was too simplistic, leaving too many things unexplained. Like how the ghost only showed up now, why no one asked for him in years and why Max had never heard of him before.
All in all, not too bad, but I think the flat characters and the often too rushed pace might be a deal-breaker for some kids. A good idea for a plot though, to set up a team of a kid and a dead detective. Maybe if the next books have more character development, and slow down just a little, they’ll be more entertaining....more
Touch of Power reminded me of Graceling. The writing is excellent, the plot is original, the heroine is kick-ass awesome. This is a YA Fantasy the way it should be. The book is amazing, and I’d recommended it to anyone who enjoys YA Fantasy....more
Fractured Lights had a lot of potential, but ultimately it falls short. The characters are okay, and have their own special quirks. Plot is good, original up to some point – I liked the Auras and Vykens. But the writing was ‘blah’ and needs to be improved....more
An okay read, but didn’t really stand out from the crowd. Shayla is a half-faerie with magical powers, but she also has spunk and personality. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t offer much originality, and the writing is just okay....more
The Greying is an original middle grade fantasy novella that offers an original cast of characters and creatures, and mixes them with solid writing and an excellent plot.
When her mother passes away, and Meah wants to cast her ashes into the sea, she tumbles into the water, and ends up in a world that’s completely different to her own. The world has succumbed to strange mists, called the Greying, because an evil Queen wants to take over Landland and rule it, instead of the rightful rulers. Meah soon enough makes new friends in this foreign world – friends who believes she is the savior destined to rescue them all from the cold, grey, colourless world and bring the colour back.
The story is more complicated than it sounds, especially as Meah discovers some things throughout the book, particularly about Landland and how it came to be. Meah is a naieve, young girl, and she struggles at first with the responsibilities she’s facing, and with ending up in this strange, new land, and of course dealing with her Mom’s passing. But Meah grows up a lot throughout the book. She learns a lot about the world, about herself, and her inner strength. Her new friends, and the villain she’s facing, form an original, creative mix of characters, and kids will enjoy the creativity the author used to come up with these characters.
I enjoyed the book, and I’m sure middle graders will love it. If anything, I would’ve liked to see more original place names – it feels as if all the creativity went to the characters and plot, and the setting didn’t get the same creativity juice – but apart from that, the book was highly entertaining. Recommended to middle grade fantasy fans (and older fantasy fans)....more
The story was engaging, but a little too easy and predictable. Kate is a contradicting character, and I struggled to like her at times. The plot is okay, but pretty straightforward. I enjoyed reading the book, but it was nothing special....more
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Ancient. The book opens up with reporter Simon Stephenson investigating some bizarre crimes in the Nantucket area. Strange, ancient coines are left on each crime scene, and the search leads him on a journey through mythology, numismatics, the occult, and alchemy. Mystery and the supernatural blend and mix in this well-written novel.
Simon is an intriguing protagonist, and he’s easy to relate to as well. His struggles, especially when he discovered more about his own family’s heritage, felt very real. The plot is what was most engaging about this book though, and it kept me at the edge of my seat from start to end.
A creative, suspenseful novel that combines several genres masterfully, and provides an unique reading experience....more
Rocket Ship was an intriguing read I devoured in just a few hours. Being a seventh-grader is tough; both Lincoln and Gary agree on that. The two of them are best friends, although they’re as different as night and day. Both of them share a passion for the stars, and this is one of the things that bring them together. They’re both dreamers, wishers, and they’re not afraid to wish the impossible. Their current plans involve building a space ship and travelling to a night rock in the sky. Sounds impossible? Not for this duo.
But they face obstacle after obstacle while trying to gather the materials needed to build their ship. When their plan is discovered, it turns out they’re not the only ones who want to go on a trip to space. Imagination and creativity meet in this fast-paced adventure.
Lincoln was my favorite character of the two of them, although it’s hard to explain why. His personality was slightly more engaging. The author spends a lot of time developing the characters, showing their personality traits to the readers, and by the end, I felt like I’d known Lincoln and Gary for years.
This was a crzative, imaginative read. The writing was solid as well. Recommended to fans of young adult fantasy, and anyone who’s ever wanted to travel to the stars....more
I wanted to love this book. The illustrations were adorable, and the idea, although overused, seemed like a good one. Unfortunately, the story isn’t original at all, reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Magic School Bus and lots of other stories, except now for a slightly younger audience. I wouldn’t have minded if the characters hadn’t seemed so cliché, and the text is so dumbed down and simple it’ll be too easy for most kids....more
Talk about chills. I’ve always been intriguing by the dissapearance of the population of Roanoke, so I had to pick up this book about the mystery, and let’s say I wasn’t dissapointed. I liked the dynamics between the two main characters. They had some definite chemistry, and it’s not insta-love, so that’s great too....more
I didn’t think it would be possible, but heck, I enjoyed this book more than the first one in the series. This book has it all: orginality, creativity, spine-tingling suspense, toe-curling romance, and a heroine who rocks your socks. The writing has an amazing ability to craft stories and characters. I look forward to reading more!...more
The Thunderstone was an intriguing epic fantasy novel with an important role for jewels with magical qualities. I liked the whole jewel thing, I’d never read anything of the sort before, so it was an original spin to the regular fantasy concepts. The book is fast-paced from start to end, following a group of travelers who try to save the life of a wounded girl being pursued by trolls, ogres, pirates, and lots more. The pacing never slows down, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.
We slowly get the background info on the world, and the Onyx Kingdom and Diamond Kingdom. There are no info-dumps, instead the information is revealed gradually.
Birl, aforementioned wounded girl being pursued by just about everything wicked out there, is an intriguing character. She has a sparkly personality, and was easily my favorite character. The other characters in the group of travellers were intriguing too, and they each had a different personality, background story, and were complex enough to be entertaining. The characters were also quite original, not your standard fantasy cast. Tem was probably my second favorite character – I liked his laid back personality.
The prose is clear, and the descriptions are short and to the point. An original epic fantasy recommended to all fans of the genre. I look forward to reading the second book in the series....more
I wasn’t sure what I’d think about Forecast, based on its descritpion, but I ended up enjoying the book more than I thougth I would. Calvin is one of the most realistic protagonists I’ve come across in YA literature. He knows hardships, he knows troubles, he knows what it’s like to get hurt, to protect others, what pain feels like. His reactions to things are so incredibly realistic I expected him to crawl out of the pages any minute.
Calvin made this book come alive, but an equally as intriguing character is the estate of Calvin’s late grandfather. The house harbors many secrets, and is so impressive it’s almost a character on it’s own. By passing through a mysterious stone door in the forest, Calvin receives the gift of foresight. However, the future isn’t clear, and there’s more doubt and confusion than clarity. Calvin struggles with his new power while trying to get away from the people hunting him down.
While Calvin was my favorite character, I enjoyed the other characters as well, in particularly, Cleo. The dynamics between the two siblings were spot-on and entertaining.
Forecast is a rollercoaster ride of plot twists, emotions and an unexpected ending. Add in solid writing, and you know you’re in for quite an adventure. Recommended to fans of YA fantasy....more
The Asylum for Fairytale Creatures had an intriguing premise. Blood Red Riding Hood supposedly murdered her grandmother, and is taken to an asylum for fairytale creatures. She’s not the only one there though; there’s also a possessed teddybear, and Thumbeana. There are other characters as well, which in nothing resemble the Disney versions. These characters are insane or possessed, and they’re much darker than their Disney counterparts, and more reminiscent of the original fairytales.
While the premise was intriguing, and drew me to the story in the first place, I was dissapointed by the execution of the story. The writing was lyrical and descriptive, and it didn’t seem to fit the story at times. The pacing was too slow in some parts, and too fast in other parts. I couldn’t stay focused because the story felt disjointed, and I didn’t feel invested in the characters at all.
Based on the reviews, a lot of people seemed to like this book, and I agree the premise was good, so it probably just didn’t work for me. Overall, the story was dissapointing for me....more