Uprooted was a fantastic read for me. The writing evokes the old fashioned, atmospheric quality of a a fairy tale from the very beginning:
Our Dragon d
Uprooted was a fantastic read for me. The writing evokes the old fashioned, atmospheric quality of a a fairy tale from the very beginning:
Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as through we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.
In Agnieszka’s village the Dragon chooses a girl once every ten years. The young woman selected is bound in service to the Dragon, and when they are released at twenty-seven they are set free, usually leaving the valley by the Wood for good. In this story it’s Agnieszka who is unexpectedly chosen to serve the Dragon. Agnieszka was never considered refined enough to serve the illustrious wizard, rather it’s her best friend, Kasia, who was thought to be chosen. Naturally, Agnieszka is terrified to be selected and her fear is not unfounded especially when she’s pressed into using magic that she had no idea that she even possessed. It doesn't help that the Dragon is a rude and detached man that seems to care nothing for the actual people that he protects by holding the Wood at bay.
While Agnieszka’s abilities don’t manifest in the expected, methodical practice that the Dragon would have liked, Agnieszka does have a connection with the land of her village and more dangerously, the Wood that they protect everyone from.
The Wood has slowly crept forward over the years, taking land and people alike, transforming them into the unrecognizable. When Kasia is taken, Agnieszka risks everything to find her friend, setting off a chain of events that has serious repercussions for Agnieszka and the Dragon.
While the setting, premise and language used are evocative, what I really enjoyed about Uprooted was its depiction of the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia as well as the symbolism of the Wood.
Agnieszka was an excellent character in her own right. I loved her naivety and drive to do good, but I also liked her commitment to her friendship. When Kasia is taken into the Wood, Agnieszka is well aware that it is unlikely that she’ll be able to save her friend, but she must try. This leads to a wonderful moment in the book where both young women see each other’s petty jealousies and grievances towards one another. Agnieszka is jealous of Kasia’s poise and beauty, Kasia is jealous of Agnieszka’s relationship with her parents and the freedom that she experienced as the unlikely choice for the Dragon. What’s fantastic about this moment is that Agnieszka recognizes their differences and anger towards one another and goes forward. There’s no real conflict from their mutual grievances, there’s just a steadfast friendship between two young women thrust into a difficult situation who continue to remain friends with an awareness that neither are perfect.
The Wood was also an interesting concept in Uprooted. The author plays around quite a bit with the theme of “rooting” to a specific place or person. Agnieszka is the embodiment of an attachment to a specific place. She loves her village and the people that she shares that life with, even if it means living in the shadow of the dangerous Wood. In contrast, the Dragon would do anything to avoid making a commitment to the people and the land of the village. And it’s the idea of an attachment or “rooting” that is at the heart of the problem of the Wood. The theme is beautifully executed and flows extraordinarily well with the overarching plot of the novel.
Ultimately, Uprooted is a wonderful, adventurous tale perfect for those who have seemingly outgrown fairy tales. This one has great writing, great characters, a compelling plot, and a subdued romance. I only wish that I could read this again for the first time to appreciate its loveliness.
Spells, familiars, potions, herbs: It’s all illegal now. There was a time when those things were tolerated, encouraged even. Magic was seen as helpfulSpells, familiars, potions, herbs: It’s all illegal now. There was a time when those things were tolerated, encouraged even. Magic was seen as helpful – once. Then the plague came. Started by magic, spread by magic, we were almost destroyed by magic. We warned them to stop, but they didn’t stop.
The Witch Hunter is a historical fantasy set in 1558. In this alternate history magic started a plague and years ago the king allowed his uncle to persecute those who continued to practice magic. Blackwell, the Inquisitor, has outlined laws for those that practice magic and uses his witch hunters to enforce them. Elizabeth Grey is a witch hunter, one of the best. When she is caught carrying herbs that are banned, Elizabeth is branded a witch and sentenced to death. Only a mysterious visitor to her cell on the eve of her execution saves her, and transforms everything she thought she new about magic.
Nicholas Perevil, a powerful wizard and leader of the Reformists, rescues Elizabeth from prison. The Reformists are a group that support magic and want to change the laws in the kingdom that prevent those with the gift from practicing. For most of her life Elizabeth has been taught to revile magic, and coming into contact with Nicholas is her one chance to redeem herself in the eyes of Blackwell and get her sentence lifted. However, Nicholas forces Elizabeth to question everything that she thought was true, winning her over to the Reformists side. The question becomes whether or not Elizabeth can help the Reformists and keep her life.
I really liked the concept behind The Witch Hunter; however, after finishing the book, I have mixed feelings about it. The premise of an alternate history was well constructed and executed effectively and it came across as original. The plot was fast paced and full of action, it kept me turning the pages. But ultimately there is something holding me back from giving this one a five star review. Personally, I felt that the secondary characters (John, George, Fifer etc.) were a little one dimensional, and I think I was expecting more from them because they become so important to who Elizabeth became by the end of the book.
Elizabeth was a complex, contradictory character. On one hand she is a tough, strong young woman. As a witch hunter she has killed and she is more than capable of taking care of herself. However, this does not mean that Elizabeth is invulnerable, in fact, early on readers are show that Elizabeth is just as vulnerable as any other young woman. It was this contradiction that bothered me. From the start, we are told that Elizabeth has been making mistakes in her duties as a witch hunter, and only when she’s caught with herbs to prevent pregnancy are readers made aware of why she has not been herself. The king has been ordering her to his bedchamber after midnight. It’s disheartening to read about someone that could kill the king with her thumb being made submissive in this way. At the same time, I read this as wholly realistic; of course a person can be strong and vulnerable. But what I have a hard time with it the instances where Elizabeth seems to have sympathy for the king, Malcolm. This really bothered me when I was reading The Witch Hunter. I read it as Elizabeth having sympathy with her abuser and it made me deeply uncomfortable.
Considering Elizabeth’s past relationship with the king, I also found the budding romance to be a little strange. Elizabeth seems to be able to put her past behind her almost too easily after find the perfect young man. Of course this is complicated when he realizes that she’s a witch hunter, the same kind of person that burned his mother and sister. But true love overcomes all, and it’s that simplicity that I just find really hard to believe. Yes, it’s nice to have closure in the first book of a series, but I just think the romance plot was a little too neat and tidy when you look at the prime character’s past.
What really stood out for me about Elizabeth’s character was her ability to change her way of thinking. She has been aggressively trained to hate witchcraft. She doesn’t understand why witches continue to practice it:
“You say Nicholas is trying to help people. But all he’s doing is helping them into the pyre.” John’s eyes narrow, but I go on. “Magic is against the law. You know this. Your lives depend on not doing it, yet you keep on. It seems to me that if he really wanted to help you, he’d make you stop."
It’s really interesting to see Elizabeth change her views on magic. It’s easy to see how Elizabeth was be convinced to become a witch hunter, and I think the author does a great job of showing the reader that Elizabeth has a genuine change in perspective by the end of The Witch Hunter. This transformation is the strongest character development of the story.
Ultimately, The Witch Hunter is a promising start to a series. It’s not without it’s flaws, but the world is interesting and I can see this one appealing to fans of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass and Kristen Cashore’s Graceling. While there are some aspects that I question about the book, I do have to remind myself that this is only the first book, and because of that not everything is revealed right away. Quite possibly the questions that I have will be answered in the next installment, so of course, I will be back for more.
Cold Copper is the third book in Devon Monk’s steampunk series, Age of Steam. This is a series that I feel keeps getting better with each book as theCold Copper is the third book in Devon Monk’s steampunk series, Age of Steam. This is a series that I feel keeps getting better with each book as the readers learn more about this alternate American West and the fantastic characters that populate it. This is also a series that must be read in order or you’ll be lost, so fair warning, there may be spoilers ahead for the first two books in the series.
Cold Copper picks up pretty much where book 2, Dead Iron, left off. Cedar Hunt and his brother, Will, have teamed up (reluctantly) with the mysterious Madder brothers to help them hunt down the Holder. The Holder is a dangerous weapon that has been split into many pieces, and as luck would have it, Cedar and Will’s curse makes them the perfect candidates to track the pieces of the Holder. Accompanying the boys on this adventure is the witch and widow, Mae Linston – who is also Cedar’s lady love. Mae has been recently released from her coven and is enjoying her freedom. While the group is on their way to find the pieces of the Holder, they are drawn to the city, Des Moines, Iowa, because of a debt the Madders have to fulfill. Now the Madders and the Hunts have to discover why the children of the city have been disappearing and rescue them if they can, all the while a power hungry mayor tries to lock up the Madders and have them executed.
Alongside Cedar’s narrative, we also have Rose Small’s. Rose is a brilliant inventor who decided to stay behind with the witches’ coven to help repair Captain Hink’s airship. Rose can’t wait to see the world and hopes that being part of the crew of the airship will take her far and wide; it also helps that she’s in love with the captain. However, the captain’s been spending too much time in the local brothels and Rose is none to happy about that, so she decides to strike off on her own, only to find herself in heaps of trouble that looks to be leading her straight to her old friends in Des Moines.
This was another great addition to the Age of Steam series and I wish I could get my hands on the next book immediately. I felt like there was not enough answers to the questions raised in this one. Why can’t the author write faster??? Is that too much to ask?
As I wrote earlier, this is a series that gets better with each book. With each addition to the series I feel like I get a better understanding of not only the world, but the characters as well. Now, I’m a big fan of character driven type books, so I was initially not a lover of the first book; I felt it was too plot based and I wanted more character information. Luckily I decided to give the second book a shot and have not been disappointed with the direction of the series.
What I also find very interesting about Monk’s writing style is the alternative view points we get from characters. The only consistent person we hear from is Cedar. For the rest, we get characters from an alternate trajectory that eventually converges with Cedar’s narrative. At first I found this technique to be a bit strange and hard to follow, but I have come to appreciate this style and I like that the writing feels like a puzzle that will eventually fit together at the end.
Overall, I loved this newest addition, although I hope in the next book we get something from Will’s point of view. He’s an interesting character since his curse is the reverse of Cedars: he remains in wolf form and only returns as a human for short periods of time. I’m hoping that now Will’s in human form we’ll get more development from him since he seems like a cool and funny character (at least when he’s human). I’m also interested to see how the romantic relationships develop. Mae and Cedar seem like a solid and guaranteed thing (but who knows in the world of books), but I also find Rose and Hink’s relationship to be adorable. Looks like I’ll be waiting awhile for the next one!
The Wizard’s Promise is the first in a dulology set in the same world as Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse, a book that I absolutely adore when I firstThe Wizard’s Promise is the first in a dulology set in the same world as Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse, a book that I absolutely adore when I first read it. Hanna is named after Ananna, the central character in The Assassin’s Curse and Hanna longs to have her own adventures just like Ananna. Like most young heroes in these types of stories, the actual adventure is much more than was bargained for.
Hanna Eulia would like to train to become a witch; instead she’s stuck as a fisherman’s apprentice. While out fishing one day, her boat is thrown far off course and she’s taken to lands that she’s only ever heard of. Hanna is unprepared for this adventure that is at times dull, dangerous and mysterious. Before long, all Hanna wants to do is return home, but it seems that she may have a much larger role to play in her captain’s quest and she’ll need to decide whether or not she can trust the non-human boy asking for her help.
What I really liked in this novel was the character of Hanna. Her longing for adventure gave me an old-school Tamora Pierce vibe, which I liked because it reminded me of all the books I loved so much as a teen. As a consequence, I found that The Wizard’s Promise had a much younger tone than the Assassin’s Curse duology. For whatever reason, Hanna seemed like a much younger character than Ananna, so I think this one can definitely be recommended to younger readers.
I also liked the fact that Hanna wasn’t your stereotypical female lead. She wasn’t out there taking on the world all on her own. What she was scared and homesick and thrown in the midst of conflict that she doesn’t remotely understand. Ultimately, the story was about her accepting the fact that she was involved and that she couldn’t remain passive anymore. Hanna has to take a more active role in combating the mysterious Mist or she will never see her home again. This meant the novel was quieter than the Assassin duology that was so action packed. But I have a feeling that the action will take a turn in book two considering Hanna’s decision at the end of the book.
Despite my love for the character and the world that the author has created, I did find The Wizard’s Promise a little difficult to get through. As I have mentioned, this book was all about Hanna realizing that she had a role to play in the grander scheme of things, as a result I did feel like the majority of the book was one big build up to book two rather than a book that could stand on it’s own. So if you’re looking for a complete novel, I would suggest waiting until book two comes out. I think reading them both together will lead to a more cohesive reading experience.
It was a pleasure to return to this world that I loved so much and I’ll definitely be tuning in for book two to see how everything wraps up. I really enjoyed the fantasy elements and I think there’s too much left unanswered for me not to tune in for the second book.
Cards & Caravans is the fifth installment of Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles. This one feature’s Wink’s spurned suitor, Connor McKay. InCards & Caravans is the fifth installment of Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles. This one feature’s Wink’s spurned suitor, Connor McKay. In the previous book, Connor had proposed to Wink and was rejected. Connor is just starting to realize that perhaps he didn’t love Wink as much as he thought, which is reinforced when he meets the beautiful widow and supposed witch, Belinda.
Belinda Danvers has been imprisoned by the townspeople in her village on the charge of witchcraft and is to be burned at the stake. Belinda is not a witch but she discouraged the alderman’s advances when he came calling, leading to her charge of witchcraft. Luckily, a relative of Belinda’s is an acquaintance of Connor’s and requests that Connor go and investigate. Connor immediately realizes that Belinda is not a witch and breaks her out of prison to have a fail trial. During the escape, Connor realizes that Belinda is innocent of all charges, and that there is something more sinister going on that has lead to the accusation of witchcraft. Connor decides that he has to protect her from the alderman and while he could protect he using his family’s influence, he realizes that he wants Belinda in his life on a more permanent basis. The problem will be convincing Belinda that she should marry Connor!
This newest installment of the Gaslight Chronicles was fantastic. I love how fast paced each book or novella is and I think Pape does a great job of combining the romance, magik and adventure. I also liked how this one brought all the characters from the previous books together in order to solve who was instigating the claims of witchcraft. This kinds of cameos are always fun when you’re really into a series.
My only complaint was that this one was too short! Since it’s a romance I assumed that Connor and Belinda would overcome their issues that were stopping them from proclaiming love for one another and because I knew this was coming I would have liked the resolution to be a little bit more drawn out or for their to be an epilogue. I just wasn’t done with the story! BUT it just makes me all the more excited for the next one.
If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, I would recommend you start. While it’s not completely essential that you read them in order, since they’re so good, I would say that reading them in order is a good idea and you have a better idea of what Pape’s gaslight world is like.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
Sealed with a Curse is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. The three Wird Sisters were cursed as children and because of this, each has their own pecuSealed with a Curse is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. The three Wird Sisters were cursed as children and because of this, each has their own peculiar power. None of these powers allow them to quite fit in to paranormal community; however, it doesn’t stop them from getting their attention after moving to Lake Tahoe.
When the novel opens the sister’s have been ordered to appear in vampire court for murdering a vampire. Celia, the leader of the quartet, catches the attention of their accuser, Misha, a master vampire. Fortunately, the girls are not held responsible for the murder because the vampire was suffering from bloodlust, which means the vampires would have had to kill him anyways. Unfortunately, this first attack is just the beginning of a rash of vampire attacks perpetrated by bloodlust-infected vampires.
On top of the stalker-ish vampire, Misha, Celia and her sisters also have to deal with a werewolf pack, lead by Aric Conner. The werewolves are tracking the infected vampires in order to protect the area and because of the Wird sister’s involvement, the girls also fall under their protection. Thankfully, these vampires are all nice and handsome, which is undoubtedly why the girls have no problem having them skulk about. ;)
Ultimately, this one was a pretty light read. The sisters were a lot of fun and the romance aspect wasn’t over the top, and it certainly wasn’t the focus of the book. I thought it was a pretty good start to a series, and it introduced a fun urban fantasy setting in the Lake Tahoe area. I loved that Celia referenced Twilight after dealing with a high school aged "Taylor Lautner poseur" (p. 74). Got to love those meta moments!
I only had two issues with the book. First, I found that it seemed a little long. After a big fight on a vampire island I thought I was getting close to the end, but it seemed to drag a little after that until the action picked up again. Second, I wasn’t loving how all the sisters immediately have a werewolf boyfriend, yes there were complications, but it seemed kind of insta-love for me. But, I think this could also be because the reader never gets the perspective of the other sisters, Taran, Shayna or Emme.
I thought Sealed with a Curse was a fun, light read, with a great main character in Celia Wird. I would have liked to get some narration from the other sisters, but it didn’t hamper the story. While I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy, I could see myself recommending this one to fans of the genre. ...more
I liked this one because it was a true steampunk book; there was a lot of detail put into setting up this alternate American West. I liked how magic wI liked this one because it was a true steampunk book; there was a lot of detail put into setting up this alternate American West. I liked how magic was blended with steam technology and it somewhat reminded me of parts of the TV show Supernatural. However, I did find the pacing of the book rather stilted. The first half of the book was extremely slow and it wasn't until the second half of the book that the multiple character POVs came together. For the first half of the book the different character POVs were somewhat repetitive and contributed to the dragging of the plot. The second half of the book was much better with all the characters all interacting with one another. It is because of the second half of this book that I will be reading the next one in the Age of Steam seiries. ...more
Deceiving the Witch Next Door is about Storie Bell, a witch who moves back to her hometown of Bloomington, Texas. Storie and her friend, Harper, are oDeceiving the Witch Next Door is about Storie Bell, a witch who moves back to her hometown of Bloomington, Texas. Storie and her friend, Harper, are opening a coffee/book shop in town. Next to the new store is the Malone’s bar, The Speakeasy. Reid Malone is helping his father run The Speakeasy and is searching for the secret ingredient to his father’s moonshine recipe, which Reid’s father plans to sell to make a profit that he wants to leave to Reid. The problem is that the secret ingredient is somewhere in Storie’s new café, so Reid has to find his way in and find the secret ingredient. The problem, however, is that Reid and Storie had an almost relationship before she blew town years ago. As the two become closer Reid begins to feel guilty about lying to Storie and Storie has her own problems with her witchy powers and her mother’s sudden appearance. The question becomes whether either Reid or Storie will be able to overcome these obstacles and have a real relationship.
Overall, I enjoyed the romance of the book, but I found there wasn’t a lot of substance besides the romance. The tension between the characters was well done and believable, it was the tension of the plot that I found to be lacking. The whole illegal moonshine operation just seemed a little old fashioned and I didn’t really see the point of Reid even lying to Storie about what he needed from the shop; there was no reason he couldn’t just ask if she knew what the secret ingredient was.
I also thought that more could have been done to explain the magic that Storie used in the book. Where did she learn these spells if her mother, the only witch she apparently knew, abandoned her as a child? And Storie mentions a couple of times that she can’t be with a mortal man because she’s a witch and she should be looking for a wizard or warlock – but how does she know these people exist, has she meet others like her? And finally, I didn’t fully get the whole alternate dimension where witches live. Ultimately, I thought the issues with magic could have been fleshed out quite a bit more. I was interested in the magic system of the book and I felt that the book would have been more dynamic if a deeper discussion on magic was included.
I would recommend this book to those looking for a light romance that isn’t heavy on plot progression. The book is ultimately about a relationship and not really about Storie’s magical abilities.
*Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book. ...more
The Nightmare Affair is a teen paranormal mystery. Dusty Everhart is a “Nightmare” – a mythical creature that feeds off the nightmares of others. AfteThe Nightmare Affair is a teen paranormal mystery. Dusty Everhart is a “Nightmare” – a mythical creature that feeds off the nightmares of others. After coming into her powers she was enrolled at Arkwell Academy, a school for others like her. One night she feeds on Eli Booker, the hot guy from her old school; however, things do not proceed as usual. Eli wakes up and Dusty is not able to use her powers on him, to make matters worse his dreams of murder actually come true.
Following the disastrous feeding things only get worse. Eli is enrolled at Arkwell despite his norm status, as his dreams may allow Dusty to find the killer. As Dusty and Eli get closer to the true of the murderer, Dusty’s life is turned upside down. She has to deal with her feelings for two very different guys, her tumultuous relationship with her mother (the new teacher at Arkwell), the school bully, and to top it all off, the murderer is now after her.
Overall, I thought the novel was okay. I didn’t realize that it would be a series when I picked it up so the novel left a lot of loose ends. While I liked the world building of Arkwell, I found the pacing to be too slow and I just couldn’t get into the mystery. ...more
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was fantastic, very atmospheric and I really liked the characters. Diana was a strong charaI really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was fantastic, very atmospheric and I really liked the characters. Diana was a strong character and I didn't find the vampire-witch romance all that mushy. This all changed in the second half of the book, where Diana become a less strong character and had to be rescued and taken care of by her vampire husband. For a second I thought I was reading Twilight. However, the actual conflict in the novel, centering around a mystery manuscript kept me interested, and I will be reading the next book in the series.