Category Archives: Magic

Blog Tour: Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

Brown Books Publishing Group
TBP June 2nd 2020
248 Pages

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archaeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with.

Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting. – Goodreads

Welcome to my stop on the Catalyst Book Tour!!!!

This was an interesting read because I felt like I should have read the first book. There were a few references to what happened previously but nothing specific in there that threw up a flag. However, the way the book was written it was as if the events from the first book was the elephant in the room that was only occasionally looked at from the side eye.

Beyond this the events of this book was not what I was expecting. It is science fiction but VERY science fiction and it was unexpected, which is a good thing. Predictability drops book ratings.

But the story. . .  not my cup of tea. Marcie is extremely honest and open. It not even her being naive, its her willing to be this way after the events from the previous book. She is young and she tries to come off older and wiser than what she is and it doesn’t exactly flow well.

What I liked about the book was the archaeological dig and the history that surrounds it.  I would have liked to have seen actual Natives discussing this history with the students and professors, it would have added much more depth to the novel. 

The pace of the novel moves pretty fast but there is a clear direction with some surprising turns.

Overall, the foundation of this novel  (because it is read as a standalone) is a good start to a series that can be detailed, historical and just genuinely cool.  I wanted more, especially seeing the science fiction aspect of it.

 

Book Review: A Jewel Bright Sea (Mage and Empire #1) by Claire O’Dell

Rebel Base Books
TBP: Sept 3rd, 2019

It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.
 
Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose …- Goodreads

This is one of those reads that I reluctantly enjoyed. Nothing really happens until you are about 70% into the book which is a lot of time. Why I pulled through for so long? Because I knew it was coming. The author gives you a (very) slow build not in regards to the romance of the novel but the whole pirate adventure theme. I actually really enjoyed it and wished the author added much more of that excitement and magic way more in the beginning of the book.

In regards to the romance, it was unexpected because nothing gives way for anything to happen. It made sense but it was forced. There wasn’t any form of lust or want from Andreas or Anna at any point before the big explosion happened. I understand that maybe the author was putting a lot on them as characters so when they had downtime they could see each other but that method didn’t really do anything for me.

However, I did like their romance once it started and I did like the book right after it hit the 70%.

Overall, its one of those books that isn’t exactly good but you get drawn into it and start feeling yourself enjoying it. There is a book two and I hope that the author chooses other characters to focus on that are part of Andreas and Anna’s story as opposed to talking about them. I plan on reading book two.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Harper Voyager
TBP: July 2nd, 2019
488 Pages

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s . . . well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…- Goodreads

If you haven’t read Kill the Queen or my review, you need to check it out now. Because there will be a slight spoiler in this review.

At the bottom line, this was a fantastic read from beginning to end. Evie kicks ass and makes sure that everyone knows about it. Although she internally feels like she may not be cut out for the job, she does what is best for the kingdom and for those that she loves.

Evie goes through a lot of emotional turmoil because at the same time she is trying to protect her kingdom and her loved ones, people are actively trying to kill her. What I loved is how the book is broken up into assassination attempts, so you know the attempts only gets progressively worst as the book goes on. And they are good; each more emotionally damaging and intense than the other.

So here is the spoiler, if you read the first book then you would know about Sullivan (Sully) and his complicated relationship with Evie. Here is what chocked me up about this relationship. Evie is all for it. But just like in the first book Sully turns her down and then proceeds to turn her down til about 70% of the book. But here is what sums up the turn about.

Sully: I don’t want you.

Eve: But we can be together. I want you.

Sully: No, we cannot.

Sully: Seriously stop looking at me like that because we can’t.

Eve: Makes an agreement for her country that may mean her marrying someone

Sully:

Related image

That literally is what happens. And I laughed so hard because that was his reaction. It was hilarious. Beyond this, I actually really adored their relationship and was rooting for them all the way.

I loved this book but let’s say what it is. There was predictability. But it was one of those cases where I wasn’t sure if the author was going that route because it was left open to different things. Although she choose the obvious route, I didn’t have an exact problem with this. I didn’t because the writing was fantastic. I was still sitting on the edge of my bed reading this book.

Actually I stayed up until a littler before 2 a.m. to finish this read.

Overall, for a second book to a series, this was way better than expected. The intensity was there, the emotional investment was there, the character development was there and most importantly a powerful woman reminding everyone how truly powerful she is was there.

Too bad book three doesn’t come out until 2020 *sigh*

5 Pickles

 

 

Book Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wednesday Books
TBP: April 2nd 2019
400 Pages

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. – Goodreads

I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading this. Was I going to get a love triangle that would piss me off? Would I get a character that does nothing until the last moment or in a fit of rage? Or most importantly, would I get a book that is so detailed its boring or not enough detail to make it feel lacking?

Here is what I thought of this book . . . it was good.

The best part of the book was Nadya and her ability to talk to Gods. This was the main focus of the novel and it was tastefully done. At first I thought Nadya would be naive and couldn’t hold her own. But very quickly the author shows you that isn’t the case. Nadya may have been sheltered to a certain extent but knows how to defend herself, she knows how to accept help and she is knowledgeable.

As much as I would love to tell you about the prince and the monster, I’m not because that would mean there would be spoilers and I am not about that life in this review. But what I can tell you is monsters come in different forms and even though people may not consider themselves a monster it doesn’t mean that they aren’t, no matter how good their intentions try to be.

But beyond the main characters, the surrounding characters brought the much needed smiles, laughs and valid points none of the main three were willing to see. The author did a really good job using these characters as fillers and connecting pieces to the story.

Beyond this, the book itself is a slow burn. What kept my attention was Nadya and the monster. The prince. . . well he is something that I can see why people love him but I don’t.

Nothing really major was wrong with this book. It brings a lot of things together such as religion, fantasy, romance, betrayal, war and history. So the author makes sure that she get readers at every end.

Overall, I am interested in seeing what happens next.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Nov. 6th 2018
432 Pages

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate. – Goodreads

This book . . . can leave you on the fence. You literally can go either way with it and I am almost positive that most people will either love it or hate it. I loved it but I am adding a * to this.

Without a question, I loved reading about Wren. Yes, she was like a scared little bird a majority of the book but she didn’t exactly let her fear stop her from doing things. Her loyalty to her family stopped her from being anything more than a scared bird. But I liked her growth or what was there. The way she was, made sense, given her family and what she had went through. I liked her.

But I really liked the romance within this novel. Predictable? Slightly because it could have gone another way real fast and if it went that other way I would have been crushed. But I loved loved the interest. Do I think it could have used more deepness? It wouldn’t have hurt. The emotions that she feels doesn’t come overnight and at the same time, she is fairly honest. There are scenes where I just had to pause because they were just so beautiful.

However, my reasoning for giving this book an asterisk next to I loved it is because there wasn’t enough history and there wasn’t enough details in the setting. We are talking about two families at war. We are talking about secrets and betrayals that can change the course of everything and yet there wasn’t anything more than glimpses over the history of Judges and the Augurs. Because the book was generally slow, I was disappointed in the lack of richness and details in the scenery as well as the history. I mean come on, its Ireland.

Beyond this, I loved the book. I was captivated and wanted to dive head first into this book novel, even after I began reading it. There is so much promise and I am looking forward to a book two.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Delacorte Press
TBP: Sept. 11, 2018
416 Pages

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos. -Goodreads

Amazing Cover? 

Vampires? Witches? Devil? 

Romance? 

Save the World from complete doom? 

This book has some promising points and it starts off really well; especially around chapter 3. But what started going down hill for me was when Ember started talking. Not only was her voice extremely annoying but she asked the wrong questions all the time.

She was a newbie witch that was pretty much self-taught but you won’t think that when she meets Jack, she would try to learn. But nope. It also bugged me out how, Jack protected her and watched her for years but she still felt that he shouldn’t have been completely trusted. I was a bit weary of that and that is mostly because he never gave her the impression that he was lying. Granted he had a kind of mysterious vibe but she trusted people that she has known less than 5 minutes. So I was bugged out about that.

But beyond Ember, I felt that the book wasn’t as creepy as thought it would be. I mean given the cover, the nightmare references as well as the setting in the Otherworld, I wanted to be shook to some degree, especially when there are Sleepy Hollow and Hades and Persephone references. I don’t feel that the book delivered in this aspect.

However, the overall plot was strong. There is a lot of detail in the setting and the pace. You fall in love with the surround characters and even though Ember becomes less annoying I personally still did not like her and fell more for everyone else.

Ember’s and Jack’s romance wasn’t too bad if you get past the fact that Jack has been watching her since she was 12 (I believe) and he is old. I thought it was cute and fitting as it was Jack’s first time actually wanting someone and something more than just his job. He became something better and more honest going through the emotions for Ember.

I thought this was a good standalone (yes it is not a series). It has some strong foundations but I wanted more from horror aspect of it and the mythology could have been upped more as well.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

St. Martin’s Press
TBP May 1, 2018
384 Pages

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart. 

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps. 

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. 

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.- Goodreads

Firstly, the overall story is told very well. It isn’t as complicated as you would think; it is straight forward to a certain extent. But it wasn’t fast pace; you don’t feel as if the story is rushed.

Jasminda is hard to like and that is because she is a weak individual and that doesn’t really change. I don’t believe the decisions she made was because of a newfound strength but it was really due to having no real alternative. I wanted to like her. I really did but she made excuses and didn’t try.

I liked Jack more than Jasminda but he was losing focus a lot throughout the book. Compared to Jasminda, he had more substance, strength and heart.

There were two issues with this book. For one, it is heavy on the romance. I have no issue with this other than it takes away from the magic, the fantasy of the novel. I like Jack and Jasminda together but there isn’t enough history. Do not get me wrong what you need to know is there but there are holes in the story regarding Jasminda past. It is slightly touched upon but if the author added more of her past then there would have been a better balance and the questions I had after finishing the book would have been more of what next and I think someone knows something.

Secondly, Jasminda didn’t work to become better. She accepted the fact that her Earthsong was weak and did nothing to change it. But the worst part of that is everyone around her accepted that. I was disappointed in that. Did she use her Earthsong to the best of her ability to do some good? Yes, she did but was things pretty much handed to her with no real explanation? Yes.

These are two huge concerns with the book, however, I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish this book. I couldn’t put it down. You get sucked into the conflict between those who have the Earthsong and those who do not. You want more and you keep reading because there is a promise of more. Does the author deliver? Yes and no. There are whole within the plot but there is a promise in book two that there will be more.

I loved the romance, loved the world this story takes place in but I wanted more details, history and fight in this book. However, I was impressed and even when writing this review, I smile with how much I love this story and cannot wait for book two.

This series with some work is going to be amazing.

4 Pickles

 

Manga Monday: The Ghost and the Lady by Kazuhiro Fujita

Kodansha Comics
Published Oct. 25, 2016
304 Pages

Deep in London’s Scotland Yard sits an evidence room dedicated to the greatest mysteries of British history. In this “Black Museum” sits a misshapen hunk of lead–two bullets fused together–the key to the untold story of a wartime encounter between Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, and a supernatural Man in Grey.

The record books show Florence fought for compassion as empires’ petty rivalries threatened to destroy the hopes and lives of common people. But a guest in the Black Museum knows the truth is not so simple, and the famed Lady with the Lamp had a ghastly secret.- Goodreads

I had no idea what to expect with this read as I picked up the book before even checking out the summary.

Its different. The entire paranormal historical plot is different from any manga I have ever read and it is slightly hard to explain. But overall, the man in grey is telling someone his story and why he is where he is at. This story includes Florence Nightingale and it is a interesting twist to her story as she becomes the mother of modern nursing. I would say this manga is romantic but not in the way most people think of it now. It provides a lightness, even though it mentions death and sickness. It isn’t dark, at least for me. But this is also not saying it can’t get dark. The author seems to leave a lot of openness in the world and I am not 100% sure if that is intended.

The story is slow and towards the end of volume one you get to know about the man in grey as opposed to majority of the volume was about Florence. What I liked about this manga beyond its uniqueness, its lightness and feel of romance, is you can take your time reading this and feel like you’re not missing anything. You’re reading a twist on historic events and that is the pull. The man is grey, although can be funny at times, tells the story as if he was speaking with you.

In regards to artwork, it is not typical manga style not even close. It is though detailed and as the story follows very light.

I know this is a fairly short review but its hard to really describe this manga. I liked it though. It is well throughout, full of history, emotional and at times full of giggle moments.

Overall,

4 Pickles