Book Review: Blood Rain by Nancy Gray

Title: Blood Rain
Author: Nancy Gray
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

The night the blood rains from the sky, Mind of Mercy’s world changes. The savage Blood Wings, bestial creatures that feed on the blood of Mercy’s people, attack her treetop village in frenzy.

Mercy’s father, the chieftain, tasks her to leave during the fight and find the source of the storm. The journey takes Mercy across the continent of Lacern where she must make allies, even from some of the enemies of her people, to survive. The search forces her to get help from the least likely of sources, one of the very Blood Wings that attacked her.

During her journey, Mercy and her companions discover lies that are widely accepted as truths, secrets hidden by the beast men, and a power buried deep inside of Mercy herself. Magic is resurfacing in the world and the blood rain is only the beginning. A hidden power is pulling the strings to cause a continent wide war that could result in the destruction of humans and beast men alike.

Blood Rain was an intriguing, well-developed fantasy novel with a colorful, unique cast of characters. The savage Blood Wings have attacked her treetop village, and Mercy’s father, the chieftain, asks her to leave during the fight, and find the source of the storm that is raining blood upon them.

Mercy travels across the continent of Lacern where she must make allies to survive, and she has to befriend the most unlikely of sources, one of the Blood Wings who attacked her. But Mercy discovers secrets and lies accepted as truth during her journey, and the Blood Rain is only the beginning.

The world-building is solid, and the characters are amazing, in particular Mercy. She’s an easy to root for main character, and while she had several flaws, I loved her from the start. The cover art fits the story well.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and I can imagine it will be similar for a lot of people. This is a solid fantasy read, and I would recommend it to all fans of the genre.

Book Review: Solomon’s Bell by Michelle Lowery Combs

Title: Solomon’s Bell
Author: Michelle Lowery Combs
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home:  she can’t let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens’ defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies. Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon’s Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

Solomon’s Bell is the second book in the Genie Chronicles series. Not having read the first book, I  was confused at first – having the backstory definitely helps. However, a few chapters in, I had a good enough grasp of what was going on to enjoy the story. Ginn, our main character, is a genie, which is actually quite cool. To save her family, she transports herself and her friends to 16th century Prague.

I like historical stories, and Prague in the 16th century sounds pretty awesome. Not only that, but the fantasy spins add unique elements to the story. The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic, and to obtain magic, they’ve waved wars on the citizens of their city.

One of the main “villains” in this book is a golem. Golems aren’t often used in literature nowadays, although they’re very interesting, and so is their history and use in older stories. The connections between past and present worked really well, and I could easily feel a connection with Ginn and her friends.

Book Review: K My Name is Kendra by Kamichi Jackson

Title: K My Name is Kendra

Author: Kamichi Jackson

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?

K My Name is Kendra is an emotional rollercoaster of a book, with a heart-breaking storyline and a heroine you can’t help but root for, and whose tragic circumstances make you want to hug her and not let go.

Kendra is a fifteen-year-old girl whose life spirals out of control due to the return of her runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable motives. Kendra feels like a very realistic character, painfully honest in the way she thinks about herself and the people surrounding her, a little bit naive which is not unusual at that age, but most importantly, a lot stronger than she gives herself credit for.

The writing is captivating and easy to get lost in, and before long, I found myself part of Kendra’s world. I recognized a lot of my younger self in Kendra and the way she saw the world.


Book Review: The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co #4) by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co #4)

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Ghosts

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . .

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the Lockwood & Co series. I devoured The Screaming Staircase, absolutely loved The Whispering Skull, and even gave another 5 star rating to The Dagger in the Desk, a novella set in between both books. For some reason, I completely missed the release of the third book, The Hollow Boy, and maybe that put me on the wrong track for this next book, but somehow I felt like The Creeping Shadow missed some of the magic the previous books had.

Before reading this book, I often compared the series in my mind to Harry Potter. Lockwood & Co is the best series I’ve read since Harry Potter, and although it deals with ghosts and is vastly different from the Harry Potter books, it had the same magical qualities I found only in those books – as if the characters are so awesome, the worldbuilding so amazing, that it somehow transcends the ordinary world and becomes something new entirely.

But I didn’t really feel that anymore when reading The Creeping Shadow. It’s still a pretty good book, but heck, I even skipped parts this time. It’s way too long and some parts are dragged out – like when, spoiler alert, Lucy and Lockwood go get her skull back but then fail, and when they have to figure out who took the skull in the first place. I was three steps ahead of Luce and Lockwood, and that scene just dragged on and on.

It takes a while before the story finds itself, but when Lucy and Lockwood team up again (they’ve split up, Lucy working as a freelancer for a while) and accept the Aldbury Castle case, the pacing picks up and the story regain some of that lost magic.

Lucy and Lockwood have some moments, but I wish there’d be more. Loyal fans have been waiting for Lucy and Lockwood to hoop up for ages (I know there’s no romance but give me freaking romance!) and if all we get are some sweet moments, then WE NEED MORE OF THEM. More, for God’s sake!

The story was okay. I mean, the author is very creative (I know that from the previous books) and we get some cool action scenes and some scary ghosts (The Creeping Shadow being hands-down the scariest one) but the whole conspiracy angle threw me off, and I didn’t like it as much as I liked the ghost-fighting scenes and the actual cases Lockwood, Lucy & Co worked.

Either way, moving on, the skull, a trash-talking ghost-inhabited skull Lucy keeps in her backpack and carries around with her most of the time, is AWESOME. He’s the best character in this entire series, outshining even Lockwood. The skull is hilarious and I even laughed out loud at some of his snappy comments.

Now, while I don’t think the book is as awesome and amazing as the first book,  I still enjoyed it a great deal, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series which will, unfortunately, be the last Lockwood book 🙁 I do hope Lucy and Lockwood kiss in that one, or I’ll be an angry reader and will have to resort to unleashing a ghost outbreak on the author’s house…or just writing fanfiction.

Book Review: The Journey to Magmatic by Ya’akov Halevy

Title: The Journey to Magmatic
Author: Ya’akov Halevy
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

An adventure beneath the earth’s surface

An ancient legend tells of a long-gone continent called Magmatic, buried in a volcanic eruption due to human greed and environmental destruction. Tulip and her little brother Noonie heard the fable from their father, a scientist who anticipates earthquakes. They’ll soon find out that the legend is real.

An adventure packed with thrills, humor and surprise

On a field-trip to an advanced scientific pod, Tulip and Noonie find themselves beneath the earth’s surface. Deep underground, they slowly uncover the true source of earthquakes, and how the ancient legend is linked to the real environmental dangers facing the planet.

A fantastic voyage into the earth’s belly

In their journey they encounter mythical animals, magnificent sights, great dangers and a world that blends imagination and reality. Together with their companions – a kind-hearted crustacean and a humanoid mindreading computer – they must learn to cooperate and rely on each other if they want to survive… and save the world.

Two children on a mission to save the planet

Will Tulip and Noonie overcome the dangers lurking in the Magma Sea, deep in the belly of the Earth? Will they escape the Monster Crab and the cruel mutants? How will they decipher the ancient prophecy and silence the deadly drill? And will their love for each other survive the voyage? A fantastic adventure about friendship, courage and environmental responsibility. You’ll read it with bated breath.

Get your copy of The Journey to Magmatic now!

The Journey to Magmatic reminded me of a movie I’d seen when I was a kid, about scientists having to travel to the earth’s core. In this book, two kids, Tulip and Noonie, finds themselves beneath the earth’s surface on a field trip to an advanced scientific pod. Underground, they uncover th true source of earthquakes, a long-lost continent called Magmatic and mythical creatures they never knew existed.

This book is a delight for middle graders and young adults. The author has a vivid imagination, mixing myth and legend with science fiction-like mutant creatures, and combining technology and the legends of old in an exciting tale. Tulip and Noonie are two intriguing protagonists as well. They’re siblings, and their love and friendship is at the core of this book.

Young teens and middle graders will love this amazing adventure beneath the earth’s surface.

Book Review: Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano

Title: Lost Girls

Author: Merrie Destefano

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.
She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.
Black to cover the blood.
And she can fight.
Tell no one.
She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.
But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…
The only rule is: There are no rules

The concept behind Lost Girls is ambitious, I’ll give the author that. The writing is all right. But the whole plot just isn’t very believable. I’ve read fantasy novels that are more believable than this one.

Rachel used to be a normal girl. She went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, worrying about geometry, and then she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised and missing a year of her life. And in that year, she’s somehow managed to become popular, she wears nothing but black, and she turned into the female version of Chuck Norris.

On top of that, she’s not the only girl who went missing last year, she’s just the only girl who came back… Desperate to unravel what happened to her, she goes on a quest to find out who she truly is, and the more she discovers, the more her memories return and her old life calls back to her.

So there are several things wrong with this book. Rachel starts out like a normal girl, then gets attack in a bathroom at school and goes all Chuck Norris meets The Karate Kid. Add to that the fact that unlike The Karate Kid she doesn’t really train all day, she magically seems to transform into a fighting machine. There’s some drug involved too, but a lot of folks are taking that drug and Rachel is just the baddest of them all.

The Rachel we meet at the start was a believable character, a typical teen, and I might even have liked her. But then she completely transforms into the queen bee, going out to raves, doing drugs, fighting, and it’s just… it’s meh. She’s not likeable. She’s not even believable. She keeps up her good grades while going out to raves every night? Yeah, right. She’s so mean everyone likes her? Hmm.

The secondary characters aren’t much better. None of them rise above their stereotypes, the sidekick girls, the angsty love interest. They’re all not really realistic, not believable, not likeable either.

Also, Rachel somehow turns out to be better than an FBI agent and an ex-marine (her Dad). Hmmmm. Right.

My number one thought while reading was “really? you really want me to believe this?” And that’s not good.

So, all in all, the writing was okay, but the characters were neither likeable nor realistic, and the plot was completely unrealistic.


Book Review: The Whizbang Machine by Danielle A. Vann

whizbangmachinebook1_Title: The Whizbang Machine
Author: Danielle A. Vann
Genre: YA Mystery
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG!

Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets. Each secret leads them deeper into a haunted past. Each secret must be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries.

To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse.

The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

The Whizbang Machine is an intriguing, mysterious YA novel about Jack Yale, a grandfather in the possession of a very special typewriter, and his granddaughter, Elizabeth. After years of running from the past, Jack heads home, bringing with him a typewriter intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. But the typewriter is so much more than that – when she types, the machine spells out secrets from the past, and each secret must be revealed if Elizabeth wants to set history straight, and remove a curse that has been tormenting her family for centuries.

What I really liked about this book, was the focus on the relationship between Jack and Elizabeth – grandfather and granddaughter. This was one of the first YA books I read that focuses on this, and it’s an unique focus that made me like the book all that more. The mystery worked very well too, and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Blending mystery, fantasy, and history, this is one of those timeless stories a reader won’t forget any time soon.

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Book Review: The Travelers by K.L. Kranes

travelers-cover-finalTitle: The Travelers
Author: K.L. Kranes
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Dagny lives a dangerous life. Pursued by an unknown enemy, Dagny and her family are always on the run and must use magic to stay hidden and safe. When Dagny meets Marc, everything changes. For the first time, she can imagine a future that doesn’t involve constantly changing her life. Despite the risk, Dagny vows to stop running. But as their enemies start closing in, Dagny wonders if she can ever really live a normal life and if she can actually trust Marc.

In The Travelers, protagonist Dagny lives a dangerous life. Dagny and her family are always on the run, using magic to stay safe and “travel” from one body to another, in an attempt to escape the enemy who is always just one step behind them. But then Dagny meets Marc, and dares to imagine a future: a future where she’s no longer running, where she’s living a normal life.

When her enemies start closing in, Dagny starts to wonder if she can ever have a normal life…and if she can really trust the boy she’s fallen in love with.

The writing was excellent, and Dagny and her family behaved very realistically, almost like real people. I particularly liked Dagny, but all the characters had something to offer, and brought an unique perspective to the table. The story unfolded nicely, one clue at a time, and kept me thoroughly entertained until the end.

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Book Review: Living in the Shallows

livingshallowsTitle: Living in the Shallows
Author: Tani Hanes
Genre: YA Romance
Age Group: Young Adult / New Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Aileen Foster, a shy, 22 year old student from LA, thinks she has landed a dream job as an interpreter for some actors making a film in Japan. She gets a surprise when she arrives in Tokyo and finds out that they are UK Crush, the hottest boyband around. She has been orphaned for most of her life, and it’s a shock for her to enter their world of frank physicality. The boys come to love her, and Aileen is forced to look at her life and choices, and decide if she’s ready to be brave and start living.

In Living in the Shallows, 22-year-old student Aileen Foster thinks she has landed her dream job, as an interpreter for actors making a film in Japan. Quite frankly, it does sound like a dream job – especially when it turns out the actors are actually UK Crush, the hottest boyband around. But having been orphaned for most of her life, Aileen is not used to being around other people, to sharing space, emotions and feelings, to become a family, to love.

I do like the boy band storyline, even if it’s been done many times before, I’m still fond of it. Besides, it might not be an original idea, but author Tani Hanes gives it an original twist, and with relatable characters and some fun surprises, it does make an intriguing story.

Aileen’s journey of self discovery and learning to be brave and start living her life, rather than push aside her emotions, was the most interesting part about the book. The writing flowed well, and overall, this was an excellent read. While Aileen is technically a new adult, the book can be enjoyed by new adult and young adult readers alike.

Book Review: Enlightenment by Liz Keel

thTitle: Enlightenment
Author: Liz Keel
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

After losing everything, all seventeen-year-old Thea wanted was to be a normal teenager. Instead, she was attacked by a mysterious creature she thought only existed in fairy tales. Now thrown into the unknown realm of Faey, Thea is forced to determine the difference between reality and fantasy, in a world ruled by a dark elite and a society wracked by intolerance and prejudice.
With the support of her new friends and a mysterious dark haired, blue-eyed guardian watching her every move, Thea will discover that when it comes to Faey, nothing is what it seems. Will her courage and desire to save this new world from darkness be enough? Or will Thea be the next victim to fall to the dark whispers of fate…

In Enlightenment, seventeen-year-old Thea wants nothing more than to be a normal teenager. She is anything but normal, though, as is revealed when she’s attacked by mysterious creatures she believed only existed in fairytales. Now she’s thrown into the realm of the Faey, where nothing is at it seems, darkness lurks around every corner, and she has no idea who to trust.

Oh my god, this book was amazing. Thea was awesome, just awesome. She had so much to learn, but instead of worrying, she just got right down to business. As usual in YA books, there’s a good deal of romance, and while the romance was a little fast for my tastes – I prefer the long, drawn-out build ups that can last for several books – I actually really liked the love interest and the chemistry he and Thea had in their scenes together. While all the characters were great, Thea and Isaac were my favorites. I particularly admired Thea’s courage and the great lengths she would go through to save her friends.

The world building was excellent. I want to know so much more about the world of the faey now, and I can’t wait to find out! The writing was wonderful, and I simply couldn’t put this book down. If you enjoy YA fantasy, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

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