Tag Archives: magic

The Lost Branch

 

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The 1-line Review:

What can I say, I loved this book just as much as the first. The magic gets even better, the plot lines are deep and woven, and we get a great story line into the history preceding the main trilogy story line.

The longer review

Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren have to handle new roles as King, Prince, and Head of the order. The Norther magical guild, The Osiris Colony threatens the balance of the realm with a claim to the powers of the Phoenix. The earth faeries face a challenge that will challenge their way of life. Can the new king and his brothers safeguard the realm of humans and fairies before the land they know is destroyed?  (you should read and see)

The magic continues to impress from the first book. The book dives into the history of the  Mapmaker and the earth fairies that added a great depth of knowledge to the character of Salerno as well as the origins of The Order.  There is still much to learn about the order, leaving mysteries for the next installment.

The Lost Branch matches the great depth the first book, Gift of the Phoenix, contained . Again the layers of major and minor plot lines are woven together so intricately, and feel separate but connected at the same time  I felt like there were several “mini ending” throughout the story that gave me a satisfying sense as each perspective plot line came to a close.

The main character of each chapter rotates among Marcellus, Nicolai, and Corren, with occasional chapters and excerpts centered around pro and antagonists. Each chapters grips and pulls you into a story line, only to be switched back into another characters story pages after. It ends up creating quite the page turner as you constantly are reading to get back to each character to see what happens next.

Bottom Line:

 I can’t wait for the next! this series is truly one of the great ones.

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Is it Bad that I liked Allegiant?

 

What would you rate this book?

This book gets 3.5 stars about everywhere you look. To me that indicates a bad rating. I don’t know about you, I don’t typically buy something on amazon with 3.5 stars. I understand why some people hated how this book ended. I mean HATED it, some of those reviews come off livid, even offended at how the author could write what she wrote.

I wasn’t offended, nor did I hate, the acts of the story that ruined it for others. Tris’s big ending was very appropriate for her head strong, ill advised decision making character. I don’t want to spoil it if you have not read it (but we can certainly talk about it in the comments!)

SOOOOOO is it weird that I enjoyed it? Yeah the story has some holes, characters just don’t think things through, I can get past that. Some reviewers said tone and having 2 narrators was an issue, and a means to an end; reviews said the characters sounded exactly the same, but I don’t agree…… well let me add that I listened to the whole series on CD, and I think this might help attribute to why I enjoyed the book so much.  A male narrator was added for Four in addition to the Tris narrator. Both narrator really capture the voice of their perspective characters very well.

I particularly love how Roth writes scenes. She has this knack for using smell to perfectly set a scene. Smell is such an underused sense in writing, and when it is used it is not often used well. I marvel at her ability to tap into this unused literary sense so keenly.

 

 

 

 

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Hybrid

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The 1-line Review:

Great characters and plot within an exciting story, but with some structural issues.

The longer review:

I really like the story, characters, and the new take on well used fantasy roles, but give the book a tough critique when it comes to structure.

Hybrid is the debut novel from author Venus Morales. Its a fresh take on fantasy with a uniquely  diverse array of characters; Greek Gods, Vampires, Demons, Angels, and a new take on phoenixes attribute to a cast of characters I have never seen together. I really enjoyed the authors portrayal of the Greek Gods, Ares and Hera. Greek Gods have been dominated by Rick Riordan fiction (some of my favorite books), and Morales created Godly characters I didn’t expect.

Ultimately, Hybrid is a love story and concentrates on Ari, the main character, and her relationship struggles with others and within herself.  Ari, is a kick butt, do-what-I-want-when-I-want-t0 loner type. She kills demons to let off steam and has no problem doing it with her god-vampire-phoenix ancestry. She has  an inner evil alter ego, Rheain, who is in a constant fight for control of Ari. The back and forth relationship between the two of them was my favorite in story relationship. They can’t live with each other, but can’t live without, and at times they get the best of each other.

There is a love triangle relationship that Ari has to come to terms with through the novel. I don’t want to give more away here, you’ll have to read to see who wins in this Edward vs. Jacob relationship struggle.

I think the middle of the book was the strongest. And there is an excellent story arc where Ari has to fight for the right to remain phoenix royalty while fighting her own demons. I think this middle piece had the chops to be it’s own story.

Bottom Line:

I think this is a strong showing from a new author, and believe the next book in the series will be an even stronger sequel.

….Where the book lost a stars:

This is the hard part, I liked the book plot and story line over all, but felt it had structure weaknesses.

While the story content had a YA feel, I think the writing and verbiage fit better into the juvenile fiction genre. (The book is definitely not meant for the juvenile age range though.)

The books starts with a blunt and unnecessary  prologue. It gave way too much detail away. The prologue could have been left out entirely and the reader would have been able to discover all that info naturally.

While the middle of the book was very strong over all. The beginning happened suuuuuper quick and i felt the ending was rushed.

Alaris- he was supposed to be supreme evil, but I never got more that a bad boy from the wrong side of town vibe from him. His evilness really didn’t develop enough.

I think Alaris was introduced (very quickly) and the main antagonist in the first few pages. Through the middle of the story he all but disappeared.  The middle story are I referred  to as strong is the fight for Ari’s nobility. It felt like a really good story within a story. During it I kept wondering if the Alaris thing was going to resolve at the end. The ending came back to Alaris, but ended very quickly.

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A Badass with Yellow Wings

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The 1-line Review:

A completely unique story and super thrilling read.

The longer review:

 Fledgling is very captivating and hooked me from the beginning. The plot instantly stood out as unique and is different remind me of anything I have read before. Quick spoil free plot- Murdered girl turned archangel in training on quests to save innocents by mind dumping conscious(es) into  evil doers. Cool, right? Author Katrina Copes spin on angels was a real refresher on you typical archetype.

Its all about angels, but I wouldn’t call it christian fiction. This is definitely a 13 and up read due to gruesome fight scenes.Cope really paints each scene very vividly in your brain, and that includes very detailed fight scenes. You can definitely feel the action jump off the page. The bone crunching and cartilage ripping pushed my (relatively low) limits for that kind of action sequence, some will like the realness of it, the faint of heart might, well… faint.

The main angel (no name dropping, kind of a mini spoiler. You’ll understand when you read it) is likable in that annoying kind of way. Her haste and haphazard choices really turn the pages. I can tell if I loved not liking her, or hated liking her. Either way she kept the story going.

Bottom Line:

Great scenes, excellent action.  Highly entertaining, very engaging page turner. Could be the start to a a very worth-reading series.

Where the book lost a half star:

Main angel was the most real feeling character, but she became a bit one tracked, especially in her decision making. One male angel had some decent enough depth. The rest of the small character cast were ambiguous (some by design) or felt very one dimensional.

The gruesomeness pushed the limits a bit. Like I said above, some will love it.

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The Atlantis Deception

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The 1-line Review:

The last 4 words were the most thrilling. There was too much ambiguity to get deeply invested.

The longer review:

 This is a ‘Don’t read the last page first’ kind of story. Some people peak, but don’t; otherwise it kills the whole story. I have not read any other story in this series, and this story is readable if it is your first one. While this story is a good read for a sci-fi/thriller, it didn’t make me so invested as to want to read others from the series.

The ARC, essentially an alien collection vessel  and mobile habitat, was filled with creatively dangerous species from a newly discovered planet. The crew member get trapped inside the recreated habitat and have to traverse the region in its entirety to get to a maintenance door and exit. The ship is cool, the creatures are cool. The action scenes and suspense are nice, but there is an amount of ambiguity from start to finish that kept me from getting deep into the story.

I think over-engineered technology drives the plot. That is to say, there would have been no danger if engineers had put door handles on all the automatic doors. Normally I don’t like when the storyline hinges on something so little. In this case I like it because it sheds some light on the way we are designing technology now. (Like key-less entry cars with electronic backup systems to open them in case of failure. If the electronics totally fail, you cant open the car…) Anyway the engineer in me is digressing…

Bottom Line:

 Props to Thracker for writing this story in a month. If you like his work, I would say this book was better than Golden Crystal but not as good as The Depths. (Have not read Enigma Strain yet, so cant judge that one.)

Where the book lost a half star:

Why even enter the zoo in the first place. The team could have figured away to defend against one species in the conference room. And Malai (the one team member not trapped) could have blown open the conference door, rather than the door he actually blew up. Common sense wise, it dint make sense.

The team of explorers about the ARC (spaceship) refer to their specie’s traits and how they do or do not resemble those traits. But never do we get an inkling of what this species looks like. So I ended up thinking about them all as humans who talked kind of nerdy. All the actions they take sound human; walk, sit at tables, eat soup, sleep lying down, etc. All of that is entirely human, nothing stood out as different. However all the other species in this book were clearly set apart from earth species.

Every species was designated a number and no name. Makes sense, but at times I have to stop and think which were which because you can forget when every name is a number.

While the over-ingenuity lucked out as being a plus, the team suffered from single personality disorder. With maybe one or two exceptions, the essence of almost every team member was the same; logical to a fault, stick to protocol, little creativity, meticulous. The team was very ISTJ when an advanced society capable of space travel should be able to get a more diverse team together.

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Insurgent is an aggressive version of High School Musical

The 1-line Review:

I want to dislike this series but can’t. The plot is like trying to catch water in a net and I think the dystopian society is to simplified, but for a second time this series has kept me turning pages.

The longer review:

Yes I know this book just became a movie, but I’m going to review it anyway. What can I say, better late than never. I think Veronica Roth is a great writer because I don’t love the plot line but I like this story. I don’t see how such a large society can divide themselves into such simplified factions. There’s a fight club, a book club, a debate team, a Model United Nations, and farmers. If you have any personality whatsoever you get to be homeless, so naturally there’s a whole c**p-load of homeless people (so it really is like chicago, which has one of the highest homeless populations in the U.S.)

So the plot is that the queen of the book club decided she wants to kill everyone. First thing she had to do was destroy Model UN by brain washing fight club, logical first step since everyone know Model UN isn’t real anyway. Then half of fight club decide to think a little and feel like that wasn’t cool. So they go hide with the debate team. The queen of book club talks with the debate team leader for about 2 minutes before he decided to let the book club use his entire debate team as brainwashed zombies too. Clearly the debate team needs more practice negotiating. Then the half of the fight club we are supposed to root for team up with the homeless personality squad and invade book clubs library. Then, in a stroke of surprising mid altering plot twists, the homeless people take over because they hate being homeless. Then everyone watches a Nat Geo documentary and gets pissed off. Slap a cliffhanger on the end and Boom you got a book.

Bottom Line:

Read it, you’ll probably enjoy it. If your in high school just watch the movie and pretend you read it when you talk about it.

 

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Jump through the Schism

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The 1-line Review:

Schism hooks you in fast and is exciting from start to finish. Urban fantasy, extra dimension, big battle, mage Merlin descendant…Yes Please!

The longer review:

 Schism begins as a mystery and ends as a modern magic-urban-fantasy. The storyline got deep quick, I was only 30 pages in when I felt like I was half way through the book.  Main characters Gabe and Lea feel real and have that fleshed-out, multi-layer-protagonist-with-flaws essence about them (wow that was a mouthful.) They are quirky and likeable and sometimes annoying and develop a cute little relationship that evolves overtime. There’s not enough lovey-dove stuff to make it a romance, so its a good read for everyone.

Safe to safe the book eventually gets off earth and into Illirin (since the book is part of the Illirin Trilogy) and you wont be disappointed by the mix of magic, war, and political conflict that make up the second half of this story. It stayed exciting right up to the final battle and cliffhanger ending (arrggh!)

Schism has a great storyline and strong writing, much better than I normally anticipate from a debut authors first novel. I was impressed by the dialogue and internal monologue sequences and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Bottom Line:

 Definitely worth the ebook read. Great start to a series and Debut novel. Boys and girls of they YA and urban fantasy genres will love it!

Where the book lost a half star:

AHH! the cliffhanger ending. I try not to hate on these endings, but i turned the page expecting to read more. Now I have to wait for the next one!

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Ennara and the Fallen Druid

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Will’s winning character: Smoos- the adorable, overly large sea kitty

The 1-line Review:

A fun dungeon adventure for the 8-12 range.

The longer review:

Ennara and the Fallen Druid is the first in a series that holds a lot of potential. The characters and storyline are enjoyable and the story is well written. For an 8-12 year old this book will be a fun adventure. Battles with dungeon monsters and fun magic items found along a D&D like quest fuel this adventure. The end game being to save their land from a fallen druid looking to rise to power once again.

Despite being an overall good story. The book did not stand out from the pack so to speak. It was a good dungeon/magic adventure in line with what you expect from an archetypical high world fiction.   I found that when I put the book down I would not pick it up again for awhile. It didn’t pull me in like it needed too.

The main character is enjoyable and her cast of two other boys and Smoos the Sea Cat are a good little rag tag team. At times the two boy support characters felt the same, so I would forget who was who during the middle of the story. I really did love the Sea Cat, whos like a big swimming leopard.

I want to read book two in the series and see what happens. The series has a chance to evolve into a great series for that young age range.

Bottom Line:

 Great read for fantasy reading children, but lacks the depth to keep an older reader into the story.

Where the book lost a star:

For this book it was all minor points and not a major plot issue. (That is a good thin!)

  • While the characters are likeable. They don’t get too deep.This is something a young audience might not need or notice, but would add some needed depth to really connect with the characters.
  • The villain was a real bad dude, but I never felt that grandiose-ness of his fear or power.
  • For me, the the story didn’t stand out from others yet. It was good but felt very standard-dungeon-adventure for a good part of the middle chapters.

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Magyk plot hinges on coincidence

 

 

The Quick Review:
Magyk is a clever story, riddled with many shortcomings. The plot hinges on happenstance and lack of communication. One smart move by the antagonist and the book would have been over at any point. Yet somehow I still enjoyed the story overall. But the story from start to finish is a little microscopic in setting, and the plot hangs largely on coincidence and chance. It is one of those stories that could have been extinguished very early if characters said the right things or a few more soldiers were thrown at the problem.
That being said, I enjoyed the dynamic between the characters and the quirkiness of the book. The magic system is unique and could be expanded into something very intriguing in the later books.

The Longer Review:
The Book largely happens in two places; the main town and a cottage on a marshy island. There were a couple other places, but all in all most of the protagonists waited out the book in a witch’s cottage. The main protagonists send assassins called hunters and an apprentice wizard boy to apprehend upwards of 5 or 6 people. Sending a small team of people or an inept apprentice to capture 2 powerful wizards, a handful of less powerful wizards, and a princess seems kind of strange. He could of sent a small platoon of men and overwhelmed the small group pretty easily.

The protagonist should have an army, but very few adult soldiers ever show up. There is a ‘young army’ comprised of children, and we can confirm there have been at least 412 soldiers in it, but we hardly see any force try to overwhelm the protagonist refugees like you would normally suspect.

Despite one of the protagonists being the ex-head wizard. Most of her magic is mundane, and she was easily captured in the middle of the story for a spell. So being that the magic is not portrayed as very potent, a group of lackluster soldiers could have ended this book quick, or at least made it more interesting.

A lot of coincidence/destiny occurs throughout the story. These moments are easily foreshadowed, and some could have ended the book in the protagonists favor if the characters worked on their communication skills.

The culmination of the story, which felt like it happened about a chapter or two before the end, was exciting. More magic is used, and some fancy ancient ‘stuff’ (for lack of a better word to give it away) is found and coincidentally (or by destiny) linked with all the main characters. After that the story tied up loose ends. These read like the credits at the end of a movie where they tell you what happened to all the characters after the movie finished. It was interesting but too specific. The author gave us a prologue for virtually every character, right down to ‘washroom girl’ and ‘five travelers from the tavern.’ Honestly, she gave prologues to characters I don’t have any recollection too.

Conclusion:
It is definitely geared toward the 8-12 range, and I think they will enjoy it. I just think the plot line hinges too largley on happenstance and lack of communication. I got this book from the library and I will get the next from the library. The series is worth one more read to see where it goes.

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Magic Ain’t So Bad

The Quick Review:
Bad magic is a fun book to read. A blend of magic, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy give the reader plenty of reasons not to put the story down. The writing is up tempo and quirky and is a very nice change in storytelling from a typical third person.
This is the first book in a new series by Pseudonyms Bosch, as well as the first book I have read of this particular author. This series ties into his previous one, which I plan to read after reading Bad Magic.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads)

As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks.

When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there.

But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts?

Elusive author Pseudonymous Bosch introduces an extraordinary new series that will have you believing in the unbelievable.

The Longer Review:
I think this story is a more exciting read if it is the first Book you have read from the author. Not having the familiarity with the author’s previous works makes it hard to peg where the story is going, and this adds to the excitement of the story. I Thought I had the story figured out, but the plot line moved back and forth making it hard to figure out how the book would end.

The narration is third person. The stories read as if someone is telling you the story. The narrator adds plenty of anecdotes to the story as he goes, sometimes adding his own personal opinions. I liked it; it is a different style and keeps the story fun and active.

Clay is a nice main character. He basically comes off as a C student Skateboarder with a knack for magic tricks, even though he hates magic. He isn’t an exemplary kid, but not a bad one either. His nerdy Big-Bang-Theory parents who take a hands off approach to parenting attribute to much of his misguided-ness as well as dealing with the disappearance of his brother. His parents are unique as far as support characters I’ve read, nice to see them break the parent molds we commonly see.

Conclusion:

Definitely a good read. A magic-mystery Survivor feel to it. Easy to start on this series and not Bosch’s original series. The original stories are in the same story arc as these. I want to read Bosch’s previous series now that I have read this one.

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