Book Review: The Last of The Firedrakes

review-cover-the last of the firedrakesTitle: The Last of the Firedrakes [Avalonia Chronicles 1]

Author: Farah Oomerbhoy

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, this book was tiring. The cover was gorgeous, the writing itself was decent as far as the technical aspects go… but the plot was so terribly cliché and filled with poor character decisions that I slogged through in the end. There were no surprises, no fresh takes on old tropes—the whole thing felt familiar and a bit campy, and the main character Aurora was predictably a painfully special snowflake.

Not all was a disappointment, though. I did like most of the characters (though Aurora wasn’t one of them), particularly Rafe, Kalen, and Vivienne. There weren’t a lot of technical errors and though a bit bogged down by needless description at times, the narrative moved at a reasonable pace. I didn’t hate the book though I think perhaps it would have been better suited for a middle grade reader base rather than the YA crowd. It just wasn’t up to the standards I expected it to be, particularly concerning the plot. It seemed like the book was full of cliché ideas, that may have worked had the book been intended to be humorous, but didn’t when it was obvious that the characters were taking everything so seriously.

Overall, I gave the book 3 stars. It wasn’t badly written, but it was a bit of a push to get through the predictable plot, whose main character frequently made rash and often dangerous decisions on a whim. If you like fantasy stories with familiar fairy tale plotlines, you may really enjoy this book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t feel like it fit the intended audience well.

Book Review: Shadows

review-cover-shadowsTitle: Shadows [The Rephaim 1]

Author: Paula Weston

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Urban

Rating: 4 stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn.

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, when I first picked up Shadows by Paula Weston, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact problem, but I think some of it had to do with the slow start and the author’s penchant for over description. I’m not saying the description is bad, but there comes a point when it can be distracting, and I feel like the story hovered right on the border of having too much when I first delved into the story.

Luckily, things improved.

From a technical standpoint, and other than the over-description, the book was pretty flawlessly written. There were one or two typos (an incorrect word, a missing space), but nothing too jarring, and certainly nothing distracting enough to pull me from the story for more than a split second. Though the book started off a little slow, the narrative hit a nice pace after the first few chapters and stayed steady throughout. I didn’t feel rushed or bogged down. I did have some difficulty with the language, but that could be attributed to the book taking place in Australia, rather than America like I’m used to. There were times I didn’t understand the slang, and it took me a little while to catch on that the book was taking place in another country, but once I figured it out, things went smoothly. Most of the time I could guess, or skip over the slang that I didn’t understand, and it didn’t cause me any problems with the story—though I did get to learn a few new words!

As for the characters and the plot? I loved them. The story was interesting, the characters were dynamic and well fleshed out, and the questions the author presented for both the main character, Gaby, and the reader, kept me reading. I desperately wanted to understand what was happening, just as Gaby was, and I was equally wary and stunned as she figured out the answers. I loved every minute of it!

Now, other than the over-describing of the beginning, there was one other aspect that did give me pause: the story is familiar. Nephilim, demon hunters.. sanctuary in churches—excuse me, monastery… this isn’t a fresh story. There’re a million and one YA Paranormal Fantasy books with the same theme, which is fine, but it was a bit uncomfortably similar to a particular series that was noted in the book’s synopsis across the internet (I’ve left it out here) in several ways—including sharing an enamored, but somewhat geeky kid named Simon. I’m not saying this was a clone. It wasn’t—at all, believe me… there were so many differences that made this clearly unique!—but these details and the author’s note in the description recommending it to fans of that particular series didn’t go unnoticed.

That being said, I honestly loved the book. Had it not been the niggling little details about the familiarity and the slow beginning, this would have gotten a resounding five stars. I truly enjoyed the book, and I’m very excited to read on in the series (I’ve already purchased the second and third books!)

If you love YA paranormal urban fantasy that deals heavily with angels, demons, Nephilim, and super-power-like abilities, you’re probably going to love this book, and I’d be happy to recommend it. If you’re a fan of similar series, try to keep an open mind, though similar, this is definitely something new, and you’ll probably enjoy it every bit as much as I did.

Cover Reveal : Darkly Deeply Beautifully

Darkly Deeply Beautifully cover

Darkly Deeply Beautifully by Megan Tayte

BLURB: With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated—and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread triggers a great unraveling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family—herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all. In this explosive conclusion to the Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely?

The Ceruleans series poster

Publication Date: February 16, 2016

[PREORDER on AMAZON] [PREORDER on AMAZON.CO.UK]

I am so happy to announce that Darkly Deeply Beautifully, the fifth book in the Ceruleans series by Megan Tayte will be releasing February 16, 2016. I’m also excited to show of it’s gorgeous cover. I’ve been privileged to read this series since the very first book came out, and I am beyond thankful to be able to read yet another of the series in the upcoming months. I adore Megan Tayte as an author, and I’ve enjoyed all the books so far. I hope you’re all as excited as I am! If you haven’t read the series before and you enjoy YA fantasy with a bit of romance thrown in, I highly recommend you check it out. The books haven’t always been what I’ve expected, but they’ve all been great books—sometimes in very new and entertaining ways. If you’re interested in learning more about the series, I recommend you take a look at my past reviews for the series—they can all be found in the Reviewed & Rated section of this blog.

Book Review: Different

ww-11Title: Different [Tainted Elements 1]

Author: Alycia Linwood

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Moira, an air elemental, never thought that waking up with an unusual blue fire on her arm would turn her life upside down. Determined to figure out why she has an element she shouldn’t have, her parents take her to a secluded island to keep her safe from anyone who might want to experiment on her. There she meets Noah, a boy who seems to know a lot about her elements. As he introduces her to a group of a new kind of elementals who are more powerful than anyone could have imagined, she doesn’t know if she can trust them, especially because the group’s leader, Jaiden, has an extremely dangerous ability. But when her parents get kidnapped by a mysterious man, she has no choice but to turn to Noah and Jaiden for help.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It was hard for me to settle on a rating for Different by Alycia Linwood. The plot was interesting, the characters engaging, and the hint of romance had me shipping some pretty crazy couples… but the book had some pretty major flaws despite all its positive qualities.

The pacing was ridiculously fast. One minute the main characters was meeting a group of strange teens she didn’t trust, the next she was giving them hugs. At times, the book became confusing because of how fat the plot was moving, and it almost seemed as if the story started mid-book. So much information was being doled out so quickly that before I even had time to breathe, the plot was in full swing. By the time the book was at the midway point, it felt as if it should have been over.

To make matters worse, and maybe because the pace was so quick, the characters actions and the authors choices didn’t always make sense. At one point, the main character faked a bar fight to get some bad guys to show up at a specific location, and immediately after she feigned confusion that reports were coming in of the bad guys searching bars. Stranger yet, it turned out that one of her friends was doing exactly what she had pretended he was up to in order to lure the bad guys in—he was causing trouble in a bar only two blocks away! It felt at times as if the author hadn’t planned the story out well, and the coincidences just weren’t believable. Things that should have been important were resolved easily, and relationships jumped ahead quickly. I had a hard time appreciating the story.

Does that mean I didn’t like the story? No. I liked the world building (what little there was0. I liked the characters, even the hint of romance. I think the book just suffered from a case of bad execution. I wish the author had spent a little more time fleshing things out and plotting things through.

This book isn’t going to be for people who like incredibly detailed and well-plotted stories, but if you want a quick paced YA with magic and it’s fair share of drama, you may appreciate it, as I did.

Book Review: Boyfriend From Hell

ww-9Title: Boyfriend From Hell [Falling Angels 1]

Author: E. Van Lowe

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Urban

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Fifteen year-old Megan Barnett and her single mom, Suze, have a special relationship—they are friends, close friends, who do almost everything together.

“But come on, guys, she’s my mother… Can I really tell her that while we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching Spider Man Three, I’m secretly undressing James Franco with my eyes? Of course not…”

The special bond takes a turn for the worse when Suze decides to start dating again. She hasn’t had a man in her life since Megan’s father left ten years ago.

Enter two mysterious young men, Megan’s new classmate, sinfully attractive bad boy, Guy Matson, and the dangerously handsome art dealer, Armando. Before long Megan and Suze both wind up in steamy relationships.

But neither of the handsome pair is quite what he seems. In fact, one of them is Satan, with his sights set on a new bride. Megan has precious little time to figure out how to stop him. If she doesn’t, either Megan or Suze are quite literally going to HELL.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Boyfriend From Hell by E. Van Lowe wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. I thought it would be about a teen girl who started dating Satan. The title and cover insinuated as much. I was so very wrong.

Instead, Boyfriend From Hell was about a 15-year-old girl who’s mother begins to date Satan and the ensuing drama as she tries and fails to convince her friends that she needs help to defeat him—and no, she hasn’t gone crazy! There’s so much more to this story that I’d like to share, but I’ll refrain from giving spoilers for now.

Technically speaking, the book is fairly well written. There were a lot of typos in my copy, but these mostly consisted of words being jammed together where spaces had been misplaced. None of the typos were too jarring or distracted me from the overall story.

My biggest complaint instead comes from the main character herself. Frankly, it was hard to like her. She was bratty and selfish, prone to jealousy, and lies. It was often hard for me to relate to her because of her childish actions. She didn’t have many redeeming qualities (until near the end of the book) so it was hard to understand why no less than three characters seemed to be obsessed with her romantically.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. I love a lot of the characters (like Maudelin!) and the plot, though not what I was expecting, was fun and entertaining. There were times when the characters did/said things that were a bit melodramatic and cliché, but I’m willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt because it was so obviously a YA book meant for very young teens and I am not the intended audience at the wise old age of 32.

Overall, despite it’s flaws, I enjoyed the book and I think it fit its intended audience well. If you are looking for a fun, adventure-esque YA novel where teens fight the powers of evil and save their mom’s from the worst dates imaginable, I encourage you to give this a try. It isn’t going to be for everyone, but it was a fun read.

Book Review: Spirit Legacy

ww-7Title: Spirit Legacy [The Gateway Trilogy 1]

Author: E.E. Holmes

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

“The Gateway is open.”

These cryptic words wake college student Jess Ballard from a terrifying dream into an even more terrifying reality.

Jess’ life has never been what anyone would call easy; doing damage control in the wake of your nomadic, alcoholic mother doesn’t exactly make for a storybook childhood. But now her world has fallen apart just when it should be coming together: her mother gone—dead under mysterious circumstances; her life uprooted to stay with estranged relatives she’s never met; and … and there’s something odd about some of the people she’s been meeting at school:

They’re dead!

Aided by Tia, her neurotic roommate, and Dr. David Pierce, a ghost-hunting professor, Jess must unravel the mystery behind her hauntings. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger shadows her every move. An ancient secret, long-buried, is about to claw its way to the surface, and nothing can prepare Jess for one terrifying truth …

… her encounters with the world of the dead are only just beginning.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I liked Spirit Legacy by E.E. Holmes, although it did have a bit of a familiar feel to it.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were no obvious typos, grammatical errors, or misplaced punctuation. The text read fluidly and cleanly and I felt engaged by the plot and characters.

There was, however, one thing that made this a 4 star read rather than a 5 star. The plot was cliché. Teen sees dead people? Been done. Crazy teen sees dead people? Also been done. A Goth character that meets a ghost and doesn’t realize he is one? Again, been done. It was all very familiar. I wasn’t wowed by any particular part of the story because the plot was the same as hundreds of other books in the genre just like it. There were no surprising twists or big revelations.

Does that mean I didn’t enjoy the story? No. I did enjoy the story. I liked the characters (mostly), the writing/voice of the book—and sure, the plot was cliché, but I was still entertained.

Overall, I liked the book a lot despite its flaws. If you like teen ghost stories or paranormal mysteries, you’ll probably like it too. I’d recommend you give it a read. Although it wasn’t new or surprising, I look forward to seeing how this story continues further along in the series—who knows, maybe there are surprises in store.

Book Review: Beyond The Fortune Teller’s Tent

review-cover-beyond the fortune teller's tentTitle: Beyond The Fortune Teller’s Tent [Beyond 1]

Author: Kristy Tate

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Time Travel, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When Petra Baron goes into the fortuneteller’s tent at a Renaissance fair, she expects to leave with a date to prom. Instead, she walks out into Elizabethan England, where she meets gypsies, a demon dog and a kindred spirit in Emory Ravenswood.

Emory must thwart the plans of religious zealots. His mission is dangerous, his enemies are fanatical, and Petra Baron is a complication that Heaven only knows he does not need. Or does he? Although Emory is on Heaven’s errand, he learned long ago that Heaven does not always play fair.

As Petra slowly falls for Emory, she wonders if he really is who he seems, or if he is just as lost as she is. How can they have a future while trapped in the past? Or is anything possible Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What a strange, but entertaining book. I picked up Beyond the Fortune Teller’s Tent by Kristy Tate on a whim after spotting it on Amazon for FREE. I’m a huge fan of time travel, and the book seemed to be right up my alley. I wasn’t wrong.

As far as the technical side of things goes, the book was well written. There were one or two typos, but nothing that distracted me from the story for more than a split second. The writing was clear and easy to follow, and I was engaged with the story from the very first page until the very last.

I adored the characters—particularly Emory, but also Mary, Anne, and Garret. I’ll admit I had my doubts about Petra—no offense to the teen, but there were times when she made really stupid comments/decisions that made me want to roll my eyes. I understood why she made them, though. She was definitely a fish out of water in the 1600’s.

My biggest complaints were the loopholes and tiny unfinished bits throughout the book. They weren’t enough to make me not enjoy the story as a whole, but they were distracting from time to time. One minute Petra was convinced she was dreaming, the next she knew exactly what year she was in without ever having to ask. She went from not knowing what to do in her relationship with Emory, to suddenly being in a genuine relationship with very little transition. I sometimes just had to step back, take a breath, and say “okay, so, that’s a thing now.” and move on.

Overall, it was a good book. Was it the best time travel romance I’ve read? No. I wish there had been a little more world building—but it was still a decent read, and it fit the YA genre well. It was a fun little adventure, a sweet romance, and I’m happy to have read it. If you like YA fantasy Romances, particularly delving into time travel, I recommend you give this a try.