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Review – The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast Is An Animal

By Peternelle van Arsdale

Summary: A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Source: I purchased a hardcover 

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Review:

The Beast Is An Animal was a dark fairy tale set in a small village. It was a story that demonstrating the power of fear and the way religion/ignorance/small minds can stifle those who are different. I felt scared for Alys in that she was always under scrutiny and her village could cry witch if she didn’t watch her behavior. 

The tales and legends about the woods surrounding the villages led the elders to take precautions against such evils, from forcing the children of the tainted village to guard the gates to isolating the village by walls and inspecting any and all travelers, forcing them to depart after their affairs were complete. The first half of the book was strong, though it was difficult to read at times as it was stifling and I felt frustrated on Alys’ behalf.

I’m not really sure what happened in the second half… the weird insta-love, the alcoholic travelers, and the issues Alys had with herself became a sort of whirlwind of issues, but I did like where the story went in terms of the soul eaters and the monster inside of Alys. 

I enjoyed the book as a whole, but wished it was put together a little better after Alys left her village. Because most of the book deals with people and their own evils, I feel that it would be a hit for fans of Cat Winters.

Star 3

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Review – FrostBlood (FrostBlood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

 

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

By Elly Blake

SummarySeventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating – yet irresistible – Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her – and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Source: I won a giveaway from That’s Normal and this was one of the books, but I also purchased a Kindle copy awhile ago.

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Review:

Frostblood had an intriguing premise that sounded adventurous, romantic, and thrilling. Ruby was hunted and imprisoned for her ability to control heat and flame in a world where only those who commanded ice and cold were permitted to exist. Legends said that frost and fire were intertwined once, but not in Ruby’s lifetime.

I think Frostblood was fun, especially because it was a fairly quick read, but it wasn’t a jaw dropping spectacular YA fantasy and that’s ultimately what I seem to be looking for nowadays. I go through phases where I want something fun and lighthearted, but when it comes to fantasy, unless it tugs at my heartstrings with the romantic feels, it has to make up for it somewhere else by being epic. While the romance in Frostblood was one I was rooting for, it wasn’t a large enough focus or deep enough for me to make up for the rest of the book. 

Frostblood had a good plot and executed it well, but there wasn’t really anything all that unique about it. In a sea of YA fantasy, it just kind of floats along. The character building and world building were decent, but not great. The romance was good, but not epic. The conflicts were quick and, despite the high stakes, I didn’t feel truly connected to the characters enough to feel those consequences and be invested in the fate of everyone. It was somewhat predictable, which I could’ve forgiven had I felt a little more invested in the characters.

I recommend Frostblood if you’re looking for something quick and fun, perhaps to get you out of a book slump or when you’ve spent so much time reading other books that you want to be able to fly through one and have a good time. But it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, so I’m only giving it three stars.

Star 3

 

Review – Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

By Jim Butcher

SummaryHarry Dresden — Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Source: I received a paperback as a gift for Secret Santa

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Review:

I’ve heard of The Dresden Files, but it never really showed up on my radar as something I might enjoy. When I got the first book from a coworker in my secret santa gift, I looked at the synopsis and realized it was the kind of book that would be perfect for me. I love science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mysteries, and thrillers and The Dresden Files is a mash up of all of those things in one book. It’s more closely related to an urban fantasy, but Harry Dresden was basically a wizard P.I. so there was definitely the crime/mystery element as well. (I mean, if you were shopping for a book for me without knowing the specific books I’d want, this is honestly the best pick because it’s bound to appeal to me on some level! So genius!)

I loved Storm Front! It was so much fun and I really liked Harry’s POV. I loved the way the book kind of threw me right into this world where wizards were a thing, but like most urban fantasies, it’s not a big deal for the magical part of society to exist, but it’s still something that most people don’t deal with. I feel like Storm Front set the reader up for the rest of the series and wasn’t necessarily the strongest book as a standalone, but yet I also feel that there were some obvious conclusions so that, if I really wanted to, I could stop reading right now and feel like I read a book with a regular story arc. 

I definitely recommend Storm Front and I’m thankful that my gift giver person at work seemed to know me well enough to pick it out for me. It was right up my alley and a good mix of everything I love in my fiction and I don’t know that I would’ve picked it up otherwise. The urban fantasies from male POVs can be hit or miss, but much like the Iron Druid Chronicles, The Dresden Files seems to be a solid book with likable characters and a plot that just keeps grabbing me. I think I’ll definitely pick up the other books in this series!

On a side note, I am a huge fan of table top gaming and I noticed there is a board game for this book. This isn’t something I see a lot of with the fiction I read, despite the games I play and the books I read having many similar themes. Games are usually based on classic D&D or classic literature (like Lovecraft) or cult classic tv shows/movies… and the fact that there is a board game for The Dresden Files makes me hopeful that this is a world with some really solid plot/world building with a ton of fans, which makes me even more eager to read the rest of the series.

Star 4

 

 

Blog Tour and Review – Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1) by Amanda Hocking

 

Between the Blade and the Heart (Valkyrie #1)

By Amanda Hocking

Summary: When the fate of the world is at stake

Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley for review as part of a blog tour.

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Review:

Between the Blade and the Heart was a fun read. I loved the setting! It was sort of like an urban fantasy set in an alternate world where immortals roamed and gods existed. The valkyries were human women that were chosen to dispose of immortals, as choosing other immortals would provide a conflict of interest. The main character, Malin, was a valkyrie in training and a student when she wasn’t out trying to take down the next immortals on the list. 

I wouldn’t consider Between the Blade and the Heart anything like Game of Thrones or Blade Runner, so the synopsis is a bit misleading in that regard. I’d categorize it with other urban fantasies blended with a bit of Norse mythology. I think the comparison in the synopsis is trying to allude to the fact that there are gods and it’s futuristic in a way. It was more in the same vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, both fun and adventurous.

Malin was a character I couldn’t help but want to root for. She went against the grain, cared about her friends, felt sort of unloved, and pushed people away who cared too much about her. She was interesting and I wanted to sort of figure her out, while also following her on this epic adventure where things went drastically wrong. Everything she thought she believed was basically wrong and her world was upside down. She had to form some alliances that weren’t comfortable, like teaming up with a guy who tried to kill her and teaming up with her ex girlfriend. Awkward, right?

The personalities of the characters were what made this book shine. None of your typical tropes were present (aside from girl suddenly possesses the qualities to save the world).The main character was sarcastic, a bit rough around the edges, and yet soft and vulnerable in different ways. 

I definitely recommend the book if you’re looking for a fast paced, fun, and entertaining urban fantasy. I loved the attitude and sass of the characters, the relationship drama, and the serious fate-of-the-world drama. It was enjoyable to read!

Star 4

 

About the Author: Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

 

Snag a copy:

Amazon

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Books-a-Million

IndieBound

Powells

 

Social Media:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/

Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans

Author Blog

ACOTAR Limited Edition One Time Box from The Bookish Box

I am a huge fan of Sarah J Maas, so I was so excited that this one time Box was a thing! I ordered back in October and have been (im)patiently waiting ever since.

So what was in the box?

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The Goods:

The details:

Some goods up close:

Review – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q84

By Haruki Murakami

SummaryThe year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I enjoyed 1Q84 to some degree. It was written beautifully and held my interest, despite its size, for quite some time. I liked the characters and the way their fates aligned. I enjoyed the alternating points of view and not really knowing what was happening.

1Q84 was definitely weird, but I was on board with the strange plot for the majority of the novel. However, I began to get frustrated towards the third book because, while the author was giving me some answers as to what was happening, overall, I wasn’t getting answers to most of my questions while simultaneously having a ton of useless information shoved at me, like the most mundane tasks and random passing thoughts of the protagonists. I’m not opposed to excessive detail, but when it came in place of things I actually wanted to know, so much so that the book ended without me truly getting any answers to any of the questions I had, I realized just how frustrated I was by it all.

The thing I dislike the most about literary fiction is that when you criticize it, hoards of fans come at you just to tell you that you must not have interpreted it correctly. And maybe that’s sometimes true to some degree, but I still feel like this book lacked direction overall and could have been chopped down and been just as good, if not better. I also, having never read any Murakami’s novels, perhaps don’t necessarily get the appeal. I also don’t have the best knowledge of Japanese culture to help me fill in the blanks as to why some things happened the way they did. The book was a bit over the top with the strange sexual aspects, which didn’t bother me, but I wished there weren’t so many scenes and references that just had zero purpose. I have burning questions about so much, but yet I know way too much about how Tengo felt about Fuka-Eri’s breasts and how Aomame thought her own were lacking and how each encounter made them feel or what deeper connection was happening at the time.

1Q84 can be best described by using the word vague. I can’t really describe it, but everything was a puzzle, mystery, or concept, from the way the characters interacted to the strange sex scenes. Some of it was brilliant, some of it was useless, and I’m just not quite convinced I read a good book.

Star 3

Review – Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

 

Roar (Stormheart #1)

By Cora Carmack

SummaryIn a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

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Review:

Roar was actually a pretty awesome YA fantasy, but I feel like I had to wade through a pretty mediocre beginning and a pile of YA tropes to get there. I have seen a lot of reviews from people who DNFed the book after like 15-20% and I feel like I was right there with them, but I also feel like if they kept going, they’d have changed their tune a bit. Roar did not go in the direction I thought it would, as the beginning sort of set me up for a YA romance with a naive heroine and an overbearing love interest in an arranged marriage. 

Let me be clear, Rora/Roar was awful. She was sheltered and fell into goo at the sight of any nice looking man who gave her any attention. She also acted on emotions and just created this dumb plan based on the fact that she had been lied to my her family so it must be a good idea to run away with a bunch of storm-hunters. I actually would’ve been on board had she failed miserably and the rest of the book involved the kingdoms, but unfortunately, Roar was a special snowflake who just needed to run away and directly into a storm before realizing she was actually the most powerful Stormling ever. 

Aside from Roar’s special snowflake status, the cast of characters was pretty interesting. I loved Cassius, despite the fact that he’s clearly set up to be the bad guy, I understand his motives and I’m intrigued by his character. I did not care much for Locke, the storm-hunter with a charming smile who never takes anyone under his wing but there was just something about Roar he couldn’t ignore. *rolls eyes* The book sets up the romance between Locke and Roar, which is kind of insta-love -ish, but I appreciated the fact that he actually trained her well. The other storm-hunters were what made the adventure interesting. I wanted to know more about their histories and I loved the way they joked with each other. I liked the mythology of the world and the twists involving Roar’s abilities. I also loved the storm chasing aspect, as the band of storm-hunters felt very much like storm chasers in today’s world without the tornado vehicles and radar. The passion was there. 

There has been mention of unhealthy/abuse romance, but I think if you’ve read adult paranormal/fantasy romance, then it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. Perhaps it’s not the healthiest to have it in YA, but I tend to think teens are fully capable of making up their own minds about what is healthy and not want nor expect a boyfriend to be a fantasy alpha male who wants to dominate. I think it’s more tolerated in adult romance because most of us are perfectly happy in healthy relationships and people think teens are more impressionable. If growling alpha males bother you, then it’s best to skip Roar

I recommend Roar, but I’m also fully aware that the beginning is tough to get through and the story could’ve been told in a better way without the awful YA tropes all over the place. It’s all about what you can deal with. 

Star 3