Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Tour: Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

Image Courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers

Beloved author of, The Girl in the Well is Me, Karen Rivers is set to release a new book for middle school readers called Naked Mole Rat Saves the World on October 15th (2019).

Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP Oct 15, 2019
304 Pages

It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.

A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?  – Goodreads

My Thoughts: A coming of age story that is deeper than an accident but provides a twist, to keep readers on their toes. Naked Mole Rat Saves the World, gives readers two viewpoints through children’s eyes of an event that changes not only their lives but the lives surrounding them.

An interesting read that will make you think and you should check out the excerpt below and let me know what you think ^_^

NAKED MOLE RAT – Excerpt

Book Review: Whispers of Shadow & Flame by L. Penelope

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP Oct. 1, 2019
496 Pages

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms. – Goodreads

If you haven’t read book one, you most certainly cannot read this without it. And if you haven’t checked out my review of the first book it is here.
This is rated Young Adult but I consider it New Adult. There is stuff that happens towards the end of the book that really brings that into question. But I loved this book. It took a little bit for the ball to get rolling but once it did, I couldn’t put it down.
Kyara and Darvyn are one of my favorite FAVORITE characters I have read in 2019. I loved everything about their romance but most importantly I loved them and their individual stories and how it ties together. They are genuine characters, who struggle with their duties, loyalties (and lack there of) and their need for freedom and peace. And in the mist of all the mess, they were able to forge something together and man,I have nothing but respect for that.
Kyara is that character that a reader doesn’t pity or feel any form of bad for. Why? Because she handles it. And she handles it with such conviction, the reader instantly falls in love with her. She doesn’t self pity, which is a breathe of fresh air for tormented characters. She accepts what she cannot change, however she grows and gains an understanding of not only herself but the world that was made to fear her.
Darvyn must be protected at all costs and doesn’t deserve the hurt that came his way. That sums up everything I feel about him.
The world building in this series is skillful. Nothing felt as if the author was tying to drag the story along nor was it overly complicated where the reader gets lost. It is detailed and developed with strong imagery as well as language.
The only thing about this novel that I struggled with was the different voices. Kyara and Darvyn aren’t the only characters that have a say in this novel and at some points it was a bit hard to keep up.
Other than that, I loved book two and the sly thing the author did with tying it to book one. It made the book perfect.
Overall,
4.5 Pickles

Book Review: Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published Sept. 17, 2019
384 Pages

Indira has been a character-in-waiting her entire life. So she can’t believe her luck when she’s finally chosen to travel to Fable and study at the renowned Protagonist Preparatory, a school known for producing the best heroes.

But Indira’s dreams of achieving hero status don’t exactly go as planned. A failed audition lands her in the school’s side-character track, and her best efforts to prove advisors–famous characters like Alice from Wonderland and Professor Darcy–wrong are constantly sabotaged. Indira is starting to feel like an evil antagonist might be to blame.

As the danger spreads, Indira discovers all of Fable is under siege. With her friends Maxi and Phoenix by her side, she pieces together clues that will reveal who is behind the dark magic threatening them all. But the more Indira uncovers, the more doubt she feels about her place in this world of stories. After all, can a side character really save the day? – Goodreads

I don’t say this lightly but this is the most creative book, I have read this year.

Indira isn’t even the main star of the novel (at least to em). It is everything in the background from the setting, the supporting characters and the plot. Indira is going to Fable, where she will train to become a hero, the protagonist of her own story. But a lot of stuff happens for her to get there.

While reading this book it is very clear to the reader that the author had a lot of fun with the setting and the people of Fable because that is where the focus is. This is not to say that Indira lacked qualities to keep the book going to make it worth while reading. But this book is long . . . extremely long. Like 60% of the book, the author just builds up the environment and gets you familiar with the characters that will be playing a part in the “action” for the lack of better term.

This book could have been cut in half and still would have been a fantastic read. By time anything actually happened,  not only did I breathe a sigh of relief but I also was ready to put the book down. I did but in a fairly short amount of time, picked it back up and keep reading because this world. . .  you want to live in it because you fall for the people that support Indira. You fall for the quirks and the book references in this novel.

This is not to say Indira isn’t a good character. She develops extremely well and I love how the author ties everything together from the beginning and the end.

The book as a whole comes together and I highly recommend this read to everyone. The only issue is the fact that it is so so very long.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Manga Monday: Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu

Udon Entertainment
September 18th 2018
164 Pages

A Japanese style pub called “Nobu” exists in a back alley of the fictional medieval European city of Eiteriach. Its customers? A pair of slacker soldiers, a spoiled heiress, an uptight tax collector, and more… When the citizens of this strange world sit down to enjoy some unfamiliar Japanese cuisine, their troubles simply melt away…

The curtain rises on this otherworldly eatery and the gourmet fantasy about to unfold within!- Goodreads

I have only read the first volume to this series and I am completely in love.

I have a thing for cooking. It doesn’t matter if I am cooking it myself or watching/reading other people cook. It inspires me and it is just so fascinating.

What I loved about this manga so far is the fact that it introduces you to the different characters by surrounding them around this restaurant that makes food they have never heard of. Each character has their own story and as a reader you get to exam each one as they eat and experience joy through food.

As it is the first volume, you have your ideas of what could be going on and there is a bit of confirmation, however, nothing is exactly set in stone in this volume. There are still ways to go to find out information of the restaurant. However, the way the story is written, you don’t have a pressing need to know everything.

Its like sitting down at a bookstore, in the fall, with your tea, at a window seat. You are taking your time and just enjoying the refreshing peacefulness that you feel. This manga is slow but it is refreshing, especially for someone that constantly reads the action fantasy or drama-filled fantasy.

Artwork is on point. Especially when they zoom in on the food :) I loved the contrast of colors between the world outside of the restaurant and inside. You see and feel the difference and it clearly shows that this is intentional. It is really beautiful how the illustrations are done.

Overall, completely in love with this read and looking forward to taking the time to read book two.

4 Pickles

Fall Cover Love

If you are a new follower, I do a cover love post throughout the year. Here I display different books that will be released between 1-3 months. You can check out January here and June here.

Which are your favorites? And what books coming out this year that I should be looking for?

Book Tour: The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Sept. 3rd, 2019
272 Pages

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.- Goodreads

Shout out to Algonquin Young Readers for allowing me to be part of this book tour. I have been itching for this book and hoping I can be apart of the marketing/promotion for this. So actually being selected means a whole lot to me.

Corinne is still Corinne but much more paranoid. Well paranoid isn’t the word. She is much more worrisome than she previously was and she has every right to be. She is half Jumbie and she has been fighting for not only her family but the island she lives on for a while now. She knows something is coming but not exactly sure what and how.

When things do come, Corinne doesn’t exactly ask the right questions. She is for the most part a bit full of herself, so within this book she gets knocked down a few pegs and becomes humble. WHICH I am so glad for because she really needed it. Like the two previous books, this one contains a lot of themes about family, the different types of family, acceptance and sacrifice. Sacrifice is the biggest theme within this novel because a lot of it happens.

But what I really enjoyed about book three was how Corrine was not the focus. Yes, she is the main character, however, this story isn’t just about her and how she (with the help of her friends) save the world. She isn’t the only point of view and she isn’t the only one that has a hand in why the world is the way that it is.

I loved and I cannot stress this enough I loved the fact that the author brought everything from book one and two together in book three. It is the perfect set up to either an epic final or a spin off.

My only concern about this book and possibly the next one is what else is there? Book three, although was good, felt stretched. It wasn’t as detailed as the previous books and without giving it away there is a scene that happens in the book that I am still scratching my head on. I do not understand why the author did this thing and just left it there. This is one of the points where I felt the book was being stretched.

Also book three is not as creepy, insight full or the lack of better term, shocking as the previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The pace was great, loved seeing the gang come together and grow and loved seeing the community and their bond as well as respect grow.

If you haven’t already read the first two books, you should do that. Despite the fact that this book is for middle school reads, adults readers, both mythology and fantasy lovers will love the heck of it.

For those that have read the first two books, take a look below for a sneak peak into book three.

Jumbie God’s Revenge Chapter 1

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey
Published July 23rd, 2019
352 Pages

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. -Goodreads

Talk about rich in history! I fell in love with this book. As I am currently writing this review, I am struggling with what exactly how I want to say things. So let’s start with the history and the world building.

The Jazz age is mentioned within this book but it is not the focal point within the setting. Mexican history, its Gods, its moral compass, ethics and food are the focal point of the setting. Moreno-Garcia brings you into this world that is vibrant and even the dull environments have some sort of shine that you are just excited to see. The image of the world that Casiopea walks through is extremely clear and it is written in a way that is detailed without you feeling overwhelmed. I loved the fact the author added the moral compass of the time. Because it makes a huge difference to decisions made, the world and to Casiopea herself. This was very important part of the story and I am glad the author kept true to that time period by adding this. 

Speaking of Casiopea, I didn’t really care for her. She wasn’t a bad character. She was experiencing a form of freedom she has never had before and I liked the fact that she was taking it and taking as much of it as she could. How Casiopea was written is an important part of the story and there is nothing I would want to change about her but I don’t feel as if she was the point of the story. Let me explain. Yes she is the protagonist, she keeps the story moving and moving pretty well but my focus wasn’t necessarily on her. It was on everyone surrounding her. 

For instance, the Mayan god of death was a very interesting character. I wanted more of his view and more of his mission. Things weren’t easy for him or Casiopea but there could have been a more thrilling and more dramatic aspect to their mission. I really liked what the author did between Casiopea and the Mayan god of death. It is different from your typical novels that include a form of romance and really liked this moved. It felt genuine . .  it felt real because it was built and cherished.  

I loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting but man it was perfect. It was one of those I never knew I needed it until it was there. . .  yeah that is exactly what it was.

Overall, fantastic plot, fantastic writing, easy to get into, easy to to see, feel and fall in love. The pace of the novel was good. The down time the book did have was filled with the history that I was craving. Super happy this is not a series and a standalone.

4 Pickles

Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published June 4th, 2019
456 Pages

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. – Goodreads

Just like Margaret Rogerson’s first book, An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns has been hyped months before it was released and hyped as one of the best books of June. However, just like An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns fell flat half way through the book (you can see my review of it here).

I love love love the fact this story is surrounded by a library and books. Rogerson does a great job world building and spilling in that love of books not only within the characters but in the entire book and world. I was sucked into this story because of that.

There was a promise that Elisabeth would be this timid girl that will come out swinging to save her world, not just her world but her world. This promise holds for a while but every time Elisabeth did something, I never understood how. This girl who doesn’t really know much some how is able to do all these things. I was searching for her personality. Yeah, you can say she is determined, you can say that she is smart, you may even be able to say brave but there is nothing else.

The whole orphan mystery can only get you so far.

What bothered me was how she viewed sorcerers. She lumps them all in one category as evil and eventually makes an exception for one. This really bothered me. Because she is rude . . . like disrespectful rude and everyone allows that. Nathaniel entertains that stereotype she has and marks it off as if she is naive. I was not for that.

I was very close to DNF this book at 49%. Nothing was really happening and I was felt that I was being lead on the promise that something better was coming. I got bored. Nathaniel wasn’t really doing anything for me. He had no depth and was just as boring as Elisabeth.

For me, this book wasn’t worth how long it was. The ending was cute (yes I did finish it) and actually appreciated it although it was predictable.

Overall,

The book has massive potential but was dragged and the characters did nothing to help the amazing world, Rogerson was able to create.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator)

DC Ink
Published July 2nd, 2019

When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before.

But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past… and the darkness building inside her.- Goodreads

I picked up this book because of Gabriel Picolo. I love his artwork and have been following him for some time now. So when it was announced he was doing the artwork for this book, I was all over it. I will read anything that has his name attached to it.

As for Kami Garcia, I have never read anything by Kami Garcia. So I was excited to get into a new author (to me) and also I have a soft spot for Raven. But about the book.

It was good. However, there was a lot packed into this and I did not like that about this. The book takes place in New Orleans; so you already know that there is a lot of magic and history. The thing about it is the author chooses not to dig deep into the history and the magic. Its brushed over and I missed that. I wanted that richness but this story, Raven’s story was so fast. I was expecting more of a backstory and that didn’t exactly deliver.

If you are a fan of Raven, there are some new things to her story but there isn’t much. Going pack to this book being packed. . . its a fast read. Things happen very quickly and there are things missing with the story. Do you leave with more questions than answers? No but you do leave with questions.

Now the art :D

FREAKING AMAZING. The artwork helps the story so much because it fills in what the words do not have. I love how the Black characters were drawn. I loved the style because it is true to Gabriel Picolo but also matches Raven’s personality.

Overall,

I want more story but this wasn’t a bad read.

3 Pickles 

 

Book Review: Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Blackstone Publishing
TBP Oct. 1, 2019

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed. 

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.- Goodreads

I tried to give this book a try not once, not twice but three times. Eventually I was able to finish it but not without a sigh of relief.

If you didn’t notice, I did not like this book but it was not for lack of trying. Let’s talk about characters first. Asterin was a brat from beginning to end and she wasn’t as humble as she should have been given everything that had happened; especially at the end. Seriously . . .at the end of the novel she showed her true colors and she was just trash. How could anyone actually like her (in real life AND within the novel) I don’t know.

The surrounding characters were lack luster as well. ESPECIALLY, the romantic interest. There was no depth to any of them and although the author tried to give them a grand backstory and a huge plot twist, they were generic cookie cutter characters that was suppose to make Asterin’s story complicated but fruitful.

*rolls eyes*

I know that I seem to be a bit harsh with this review. But I cannot hide my disappointment and mostly because the ending was the best part of the book. Not because it ended but because Asterin’s true colors came out and how selfish and just not as great as everyone boosted about all book. Yes, the grit of the book comes full circle at the end, however, it came off that the author was throwing everything in at once. Too much information was being discovered last moment in the middle of a fight scene and again Asterin was pretty lame.

Overall, this book was a no for me. I kept giving it a chance because of how highly it was being rated. But when I first started the book I stopped at 20% in. The second time I stopped at 46% and the third time I finished it.

I am not a fan of this book OH! And that last page. . . nice try.

1 Pickle