Oak and Mistletoe by J.Z.N. McCauley
*I received an ARC of Oak and Mistletoe from the author, J.Z.N. McCauley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…
Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.
Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes. "
Review: There was definitely both good and bad that came with Oak and Mistletoe.
Bad news first. I found this book to be rushed and unrealistics. YES I KNOW that DOES sound strange because it is both fiction and fantasy, so how could it be "realistic"? Well, let me explain. It wasn't necessarily the magic part that threw me off, but that fact that the main character, Cathy, took everything in without emotion, even though her entire world had literally been shaken up. Something traumatic also happens within the first 50ish pages and I found that to be not only rushed, but again hard to fathom how Cathy could take in so much change with so little response. I also found the start of the book to be very rushed because there was barely any building up of the world and the characters before everything came crashing down. The romance also wasn't particularly believable, but I wouldn't say it was horrible either.
Now for the good part! I loved that Oak and Mistletoe was set in Ireland. I haven't read any books set in Ireland and it was great to see a part of a different culture. I read a lot of fantasy novels, but many are more modern and element based. I really like that this book featured a old mystic sort of magic in it and that definitely caught my attention. Many books also feature teens that seem to run off without a care in the world. Oak and Mistletoe captures the family vibe and includes the details many books leave out. For instance, Cathy doesn't disappear without making contact to others and even when they are out adventuring the book often mentions of them "relieving themselves" which I found both hilarious and realistic and something I know that many YA readers comment about.
PS: I would like to thank J.Z.N. McCauley for the bag of sweets and the signed book and bookmarks!
A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe
Synopsis: "Sora's life was full of magic--until she discovered it was all a lie.RSS Feed
Heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother's last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world's natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she's ever known."
Review: *I received a copy of A Mortal Song from Netgalley , but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
If you've been following my blog you may see that I read fantasy often, but A Mortal Song is quite a different read for me even though it falls under the category of fantasy. I saw both good and bad aspects to this book,but I'll starting with the bad.
This book was not a page turner for me. I can't read more than one book at a time, but I also couldn't seem to bother to pick this one up. The plot wasn't bad, but I never completely felt in their world and the fight scenes honestly made me skim by. I also didn't particularly like the romance or characters, neither was bad but neither were amazing. Due to this, I had to rate it a bit lower.
However, A Mortal Song also brought a lot of things that really set it apart from other books. First of all, diversity. In YA there are a LOT of strong female characters and having that in A Mortal Song was amazing, but the most unique aspect was the fact that this novel took place in Japan. I can honestly say I have never read more than one or two fantasy novels that take place in countries that aren't the US, the UK, or a completely fictional realm. This aspect was what really held my attention and kept me going. I also loved the world that was created and shamefully I don't know how much is actually a story told in Japan, but the mythology part to this novel was incredible.
Even with the fact that this book did not completely suit my tastes, I would still recommend this book because it is still a good read for those looking for a novel that branches out from what is usually seen in YA fantasy.
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
"One girl's nightmare is this girl's faery tale
She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.
She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.
The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read."
Review: I went into the book only knowing that it might include steampunk and that it is a historical fiction novel, but I got SO MUCH MORE. The element of fantasy and fae has introduced me to a new world of fiction! I never got into historical fiction because I have never been a fan of history in school and historical fiction never appealed to me but The Falconer may have changed me for good! As reader who hasn't really touched high fantasy, historical fiction, or steampunk this book itself was just so amazing I didn't even need much exposure to its parts to fall in love with it.
For me the book was separated into three things: romance, plot, and the world they lived in. Each provided their own unique input.
I was gripped by the first page. For many books it can take me a good chapter to finally get into the flow, but this novel had my complete attention and I couldn't stop thinking about it, which is how I knew it was good from the start. My lack of knowledge on the main parts of this novel didn't help me predict the plot line, but even with exposure to fae and historical fiction, I found that the twists and turns had my head spinning. I felt some Lunar Chronicle and Outlander vibes, but even that couldn't prepare me for some of the plot twists. The endless excitement, action, romance, and magic kept me reading and reading until my eyes were drooping and still I read on.
Love triangle? Not really. I really enjoyed the romance that was expertly weaved in and not all too strongly focused on. It was strange because this time period called for the focus on marriage, weddings, and courting, but Elizabeth May was able to turn away from that for the most part. The romantic tension was definately present throughout the novel underneath the surface, but overall the shift of focus brought more attention to an entirely different world that the characters lived in.
This brings in the world of Aileana who is not at ALL what she seems and her fiery attitude is a welcomed point of view in the novel. Her world is filled with gadgets in a time long ago, located at Edinburgh, Scotland. Her trinkets and gadgets remind me of Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles and I just happened to love that aspect of this novel. However, out of all the amazing things in their world I LOVED learning more about the fae. I have read some books with the fae mentioned here or there, but this novel has taught me more about fae than any other book and the entire subject is now something I can't wait to delve deeper into!
If it wasn't clear, I LOVED The Falconer and I am so excited to continue reading this series!
Favorite Quote(s): "It's a relief to be alone."
"It seems strange that such destructive creatures could build something so beautiful."
"Never trust the fae."
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Synopsis: " “I made the wrong choice.”
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more."
Review: I was completely in the mood for a good ol' contemporary romance and this was perfect. Lina was a pretty standard young adult character with a somewhat unique young adult life and plot. However, I was definitely in the mood for this type of book so that only helped.
I have never traveled to Europe, but I loved the way this novel described the atmosphere of Italy and I felt like I could understand a part of Italy even though I have never been. The setup of Lina's story was also unique in that there were multiple crazy twists in her past. The entire story is cute and romance filled, with the standard sort of contemporary action.
My two favorite parts about this novel was the romance and the characters. As a contemporary YA novel, the romance part of this book was a given, but Love & Gelato provided a romance that I was just really drawn to and I found myself knee-deep and completely in love with their love before I knew it. Jenna Evans Welch also created amazing characters. Not only were they relatable, they were also unique and definitely had characteristics that really set them apart from other contemporary characters.
The only reason I had to rate this book a bit lower was the predictability. I was able to guess a bit more than half the book which wasn't horrible, but I found myself wishing Lina could read my mind and that wasn't what I was hoping for. However, overall I still really enjoyed the plot, even though I was able to guess the ending and it wasn't as fast as I preferred.
Love & Gelato is a great read for anyone in search of a love story with unique characters and a event-filled and cute plot!
Favorite Quote: "Her sadness was smeared across the journal like paint that had never had the chance to dry."
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Inked by Eric Smith
*I received a copy of Inked from the author, Eric Smith, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.
Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.
And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.
But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.
Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.
Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep."
Review: I really enjoyed this book, but before I get on with my compliments I want to go through the couple of things I didn't enjoy as much. I found this novel's action areas harder to read than I would other books. In my opinion, I would actually prefer this book to be a movie instead of a book, just because of many of the awkward scenes that could have been amazing movie scenes. I also found the pacing of the book to be a bit odd as some scenes were too slow for me and I had to skim those lines just to speed up. Despite these few setbacks, I loved this story!
The whole idea of Inked is pretty incredible (in short the each year people are inked and receive magic from that ink as a prediction of that person's job in society). I would say that every book is better than its movie, but I could see Inked being, potentially, an even better movie than it is a book. Not only that, but as a movie Caenum's world could really be seen in more depth which would have really drawn me in. My favorite part about this novel is really the ideas Eric Smith has for this world and that is why I am even more excited to read the next book Branded when it's released!
I have a slight confession about this book. I did not read the synopsis very carefully before reading this book, so for a couple of pages I automatically assumed that this book was narrated by a female lead character. This is how I know I've been spoiled for too long... Anyways I did actually enjoy reading from a male's perspective because I haven't read many recently and this was a refreshing experience. The writing is also beautiful and I can see how many lines of advice could also be brought into our world.
The plot line had surprises at many points, but at the same time it could have been better. However, I really have to stress the brilliance of the whole ink-tattoo-magic relationship. This interesting idea really helped pull me through this novel to find out more about the world Caenum lives in. Overall, I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a easy, breezy read (even though it took me forever because of school) as well as anyone in search of an interesting world with some adventure and hints of romance and action!
Favorite Quote(s): "Ink has a habit of leaving a stain on the world."
"Magic makes people dream. Imagine."
Someone I Wanted to Be by Aurelia Wills
*I received this book for free through Netgalley from Candlewick, but this in no way affects my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Synopsis: When an insecure teen starts impersonating someone else, her life spirals dangerously out of control in a realistic, relatable novel about finding yourself—and discovering your true friends.
Leah Lobermier dreams of becoming a doctor, but it’s hard to stay focused on getting good grades when boys make oinking sounds at her in school and her mother spends every night on the couch with a bottle of wine. Leah’s skinny and popular "friends," Kristy and Corinne, aren’t much better and can hardly be counted on for support. When the girls convince a handsome older man to buy them beer, Leah takes his phone number and calls him, pretending to be Kristy—coy and confident—and they develop a relationship, talking and texting day after day. But as the lie she created grows beyond her control, can Leah put a stop to things before she—or Kristy—is seriously hurt?
Review: Someone I Wanted to Be was not exactly one of my favorite reads. Although some points were enjoyable overall I was not given that kind of endless pull to read it or continue reading. I found Leah to be quite a likeable character but without the correct plot I just never connected with anything. It was like one of those movies you would watch at the theater and just sort of forget about.
I have to say that the ending was the most disappointing for me. It wasn't meant to be a cliffhanger (I don't think) but it left me asking ' what just even happened?' I was just clicking between pages on my kindle completely lost. Not very appealing.
My only liking to this book was that it really did touch on the teenage feel of life and some life problems and challenges which are clearly not easy to face or bring to the public eye. I liked that Leah was not just viewed as a 'fat' girl, but, to the reader, we could see all the troubles she faced whether it was at home, school, or with friends, Leah really did have a lot to go through which was really the biggest reason I finished the novel, to see if she could overcome her problems.
Overall everything felt too mediocre/ not attention grabbing which left me quite sad. However, feel free to pick this book up if a relaxed read is what you're into the mood for!
Favorite Quote(s): "I was a kid again. I was playing hideandseek with the whole world."
"The streetlights looked like burning matches sticking out of the sidewallk."
"I was alone. It was so familiar."
"no more kittens or puppies. They'd all grown up and run away."
NO SHAME.... yes I bought more books (THIS IS ACTUALLY TWO (and a half) HAULS PUT TOGETHER)
to be fair I have very few books compared to the rest of the bookish world (bloggers, bookstagrammers, etc.)
So let me just show you guys what I ordered! (and pretty much some books that will be reviewed in the future)
Let me know in the comments which books you've read or want to read!
The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
Synopsis:"A poignant and unexpectedly funny novel about Francis - one of the best and bravest teenage boy narrators since Adrian Mole. This is an emotionally honest story about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad things can be.
Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection - and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who's at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber - fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber - and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good, the bad and everything in between - head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live. "
Review: Amber Sunrise is an absolutely brilliant, funny, and wonderful girl, but this book was, unfortunately, not up to par for me. This novel follows the stereotypical plot of a cancer ridden teen (aka a similar plot to what most people would know as The Fault in Our Stars). However, don't get me wrong I actually do love a good stereotypical YA novel! I just didn't find this novel to grab my interest as well as others do.
After reading so many novels, most readers have that same sense as to when you watch a scary movie and you just want to scream, "DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!", but with romance and life issues instead of bloody murderers delivering pizza. In a sense everything felt too predictable for me.
My favorite part of the novel is mainly the character development. Francis is definitely a brave soul, and after facing cancer it's clear he can handle a lot (like his dad!). It is strange however, that even in a first person narrative of Francis I feel like I almost understand Amber better. Amber is a great inspiration for people to have and she just always seems to have this spunk and eternal optimism to her. Francis's family is also such a great group of people. I found it so kind of them to be there for him so much, especially his mother who really worked so hard for him that her own life had to be put on pause until he got better.
One more thing I wish was expanded on more was the cancer itself. There was a lot of mentioning of days in bed, but it almost seemed to completely push away the pain of cancer to the side. It was strange to read this novel seeming as if cancer is just a lack of hair and going to the restroom at night to puke. Yes, this is just a YA novel so clearly all the details won't be found in the book, but it was just something I thought could be portrayed more accurately.
I could almost see this becoming a better movie than it is a book. The scenes that float in my mind seem to wish to see more detail of what's actually going on than just the words that are in the book. (this is just my opinion however.)
Favorite Quote(s): "She was designed for color and movement. She was not a girl born for the click of the camera's lens. No device could capture her, the way she was, the way she was meant to be. She was not born to be still or stationary. WIthout her color she was broken, a faulty image that could never be fixed. Without her voice she was nothing."
" 'Do you know the best things about stars?' 'What?' 'They're all dead, but we can still see them. When we look up it's like we're looking up at a million different memories, a million different versions of something that sued to be. That's not romantic either; it's just science.' 'It is a bit romantic,' I tried to argue. 'No, it's not,' she said. 'It's real, and that's what's important.' "
It's Thanksgiving here for us in America and I would like to take this chance to just let you guys know of things I am thankful for:
1) YOU - Thank you for all the support and amazingness (you deserve everything you've ever dreamed of)
2) the bookstagram community - If you are from the bookstagram community THANK YOU SO MUCH because you guys might be some of the nicest and most positive people I have ever met!
3)Family and Friends - They probably won't see this, but thanks for being there for me all the time (even when I'm weird) it means a lot!
4) BOOKS- ahah no explanation needed
5) animals - I really want a dog in my life (or a cat no judgement)
6) book fandoms- It's really crazy to think that even when you don't know someone you can both be Harry Potter fans or love SJMaas. (I LOVE IT)
7) Food- seriously though, it's great you should try it sometime
8) EVERYTHING- It can be hard to believe, but I really am SO grateful for all that I have, because not everyone is as fortunate. The chance that this small teen (me) can find such an amazing group of people with the same passion is something that only happens in our world and I'm so thankful to be living in this time and I can't wait to see where we grow from here. I'm also so grateful for a roof over my head, clothes, food, and the fact I can keep on growing my small book collection with a group of amazing people. Again, thanks so much!
Let me know in the comments what you are thankful for!
The Missing Crimoire by Robin Puelma
Title: The Missing Crimoire
Author: Robin Puelma
Series: Standalone (I believe?)
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher:Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Rating:★★★★☆ (If I were younger)
★★★☆☆ (2.5 for young adult readers)
*This book is written by my english teacher's friend but this will not affect my honest review (first time I ever wrote that)*
Synopsis:"Twelve-year-old Luke Cedrus lives in the most un-magical place (an adoption ward), under the authority of the most un-magical person (Mrs. Hall), believing only un-magical things happen to him (detention). Until one night, Luke discovers he is anything but un-magical. He is a keeper of magic. The one thing Luke wants in life? Family. With his new magical powers, he's convinced he can have just that.
Or can he?
Immediately, life flips upside-down as in one night, he must escape from the ward to save his life and learns that his mother is dead and his father is wanted for the murder of a powerful keeper.
Now, engulfed by his new magical surroundings, Luke faces ridicule and ultimate danger for the actions of his father. Plus, after discovering an evil keeper's secret plot to dominate keepers everywhere, Luke is thrust into an adventure well beyond his years.
It'll take the help of his new friends, magical key, and sheer belief in himself to tackle the terrors facing the keeper world. And discover what family truly means."
Review: This review will be slightly different because I could see my younger self really enjoying this whereas older readers may not. I'll start off with what my younger self would say.
This book was A BLAST. There was action, magic, drama and everything you needed in a book! The key idea was really cool! I also really enjoyed Luke's character, background story and his entrance to his new life. His race to stop evil was full of adventure, mischief, friendship, and family. There were many plot twists (I'm assuming my younger self probably wouldn't be able to predict anything..) that I couldn't see coming! I would really recommend this book to anyone who loves magic and adventure!
As an older reader, I found this book way too similar to Harry Potter. Luke, the main character, lost both his parents got sent into a magical world in practically a split second. There he befriended a boy and a girl and there were magical competitions involving lakes and his famous blood helped him through a lot. There was even a boy who hated him for his father and his blood... (Malfoy pretty much). However, even with this slight problem and this book clearly being aimed towards younger readers, I have to say that I did want to finish this book! Yes, it would have been better reading this book a couple years back, but it wasn't a bad read even now.
I also found this book very predictable, again a problem that I probably wouldn't have faced if I read it a couple years back, but I was pretty much able to predict the two largest things that would happen by page 100 or before.
Overall, I really would recommend this book to younger readers, but even as an older reader I found the urge to keep on reading. As you can see I have two ratings one for younger readers and one for older readers!
Cover: ★★★★★ (cool art!)
A fan of anything fiction, furry, & fun.