Lunar Rainbows Reviews

Micheline is a lifelong book junkie who loves writing almost as much as she loves reading. She's a self-professed geek who LOVES to gush and fangirl about books, tv shows, movies and fandoms in general. She's been a book reviewer for over 5 years now, sharing her love of books with the world. In 2012, she launched Lunar Rainbows Reviews and she couldn't imagine her life without it. When she's not reading or blogging, Micheline is likely rewatching her favorite tv shows with her boyfriend, snuggled up with a cat or two, or wasting time on Pinterest.

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1)

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1) - Rick Riordan The Lost Hero is the first book in The Heroes of Olympus Series - a spinoff of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I think that the main reason that I didn't jump into these straight after I finished with Percy Jackson and the gang was because I knew that we were getting a host of all-new characters here - and that always makes me nervous. I'm also one of those people who feel like spinoff series are usually weaker than the original material, so it was with a cautious mind that I finally bit the bullet and checked out The Lost Hero.

First of all, I should say that even though I've owned a physical copy of this book for years, my recent audiobook kick made me want to give this a try on audio. When I first started listening, I had a brief moment of ''uhm, maybe audio wasn't the best idea''. The reason? The narrator, Joshua Swanson sounded great and all, but the way he put emphasis on certain words, with heavy pauses in between other words, reminded me a little too much of how William Shatner speaks. o.O I really wasn't sure if I could get used to it but luckily, I gave him a chance and it paid off. I can't tell if it either got better as the story went on or if I stopped noticing as much, but I ended up really enjoying the narration! Joshua Swanson did amazing voices for all of the characters; not to mention the mythological beings, like Cyclopes, Giants, Gods and Goddesses alike! It was brilliant.

Back to the topic at hand, The Lost Hero picks up soon after the events of The Percy Jackson Series, but with a bunch of new characters and new mythology to boot! For whatever reason, I thought that we'd get straight into the new aspect of Roman Mythology, but those details were slow going. Without getting into specifics, not all of the new characters are Roman Demi-Gods - so most of the mythos here remains a mystery. Despite that, I had a lot of fun getting to know Jason, Piper and Leo! I was worried that they couldn't possibly live up to Percy and Co., but I have to say that these new heroes grew on me throughout their adventures here and now I want to hang out with every single one of them. Jason was a bit tricker because of the issue with his memory, but I still grew to admire and root for him. Piper was the one I thought I'd have the most trouble relating to at first, but she surprised me with her abilities and her personality eventually shone through and won me over. And Leo? Well, I think Leo is my favorite out of the bunch. I might even totally have a little crush on him ;)

The plot is the usual Rick Riordan fare - I remember complaining that certain Percy Jackson books felt repetitive and formulaic, but I didn't notice it as much in this instance. It might have been the combination of the nice break I took in between the two series and the addition of new characters and mythology but I was totally feeling my return amongst the Gods, Goddesses and Demi-Gods alike! Much of the details of the overarching storyline still remain mysterious by the end, so I'm already looking forward to unraveling the secrets within the rest of the series. The pacing was mostly solid, with the exception of the last 10 chapters. I don't know if it was the multiple quests and goals, or that the resolution afterwards was slow going, but things was dragging by the end there, which is weird because the ending is where the pacing usually picks up drastically. I have to say that this book is much thicker than the previous Percy Jackson books are, so it might have benefited from some trimming here and there.

Minor issues aside, I definitely enjoyed coming back to Camp Half-Blood and going on a quest with our new heroes! I think that I probably would have benefitted from a Percy re-read, since some of the past moments that were alluded to at times felt a bit foggy. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun with The Lost Hero and I know I won't wait too long to get started on The Son of Neptune!

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The Alloy of Law

The Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson The Alloy of Law is a continuation of the original Mistborn Trilogy - set three hundred years after the events that took place in the third book, The Hero of Ages. Needless to say, this means that our favorite characters from the original series are long gone. Which would explain why I waited MONTHS after finishing the original trilogy to jump into this one. Well that, and I needed time to heal from what went down at the end of The Hero of Ages *sniff*

Given the fact that The Alloy of Law is set hundreds of years after the events of the original trilogy, it naturally features a lot of new elements. New characters yes, but also a new setting, new threats, new enemies...even new rules within the existing magical system - which means new power combinations! Without going into details of the previous and current magical systems (Those who've read the series know what's up, and I don't want to spoil anything those who haven't ), I was fascinated by the fact that true Mistborns no longer seem to exist, and that now Mistings can also readily have Feruchemy at their disposal. This seems to have come about with the rise of Harmony as a way of maintaining balance but it soon becomes clear that some individuals can still become nearly immortal with certain specific Allomantic and Feruchemical combinations. This new approach to the given magical system was an innovative twist and definitely kept things interesting!

With the new characters, there is a lot to love. Waxillium or Wax is the main protagonist but there's also Wayne and eventually Marasi. I thoroughly enjoyed the lot of them, Wax with his enigmatic ways, mild paranoia, righteous motives and serious skills, Wayne with his disguises, wicked abilities and inherent humor, and finally Marasi with her charm, intellect and courage. All of them won me over in no time. It was completely engrossing to see how they all came together and interacted with one another, and of course, the best part was figuring out how their powers worked and complemented each other. The main threat that our heroes face was a mystery from the offset but as the villain started to reveal himself, I couldn't help but be amazed by what he could do. However, his motivations did feel a tad bit underwhelming, but I have a feeling that as the series progresses, the bigger picture will reveal itself in a more satisfying way.

As far as the setting goes, The Alloy of Law has a Western/Steampunk style to it that is wholly new to the Mistborn Series. I was a big fan of how this new setting complemented the magical system and the characters at play here. Gunslinging, renegade law enforcement with the new combinations of Allomancy+Feruchemy work surprisingly well together and I can honestly say that I'm very eager to see how this new world will evolve from this point forward. Given that this story is set in the same world and that the magical powers are still at their basis the same as they've always been, I did find myself missing the usual world-building and magic-building that Sanderson does so well. I know that we didn't actually need it, but I couldn't help but want it all the same. Both the world and the magic simply grew from what they started out as, but I guess I could have done with more backstory on how things evolved the way they did, to make the story as immersive as the previous trilogy.

With that being said, I still had a great time with The Alloy of Law. The new setting, fresh power combinations and engrossing characters were completely satisfying and worthy of the original trilogy. The ending pretty much left me begging for more so it won't be long until I sink my teeth into Shadows of Self!

The Eleventh Metal

The Eleventh Metal - Brandon Sanderson This was totally worth the read. Despite being written as an introduction to the Mistborn game, it was a brilliant way to give the read insight into what exactly Kelsier was like before he had found his true purpose, before he had his crew and before he had fully gained his infamy as 'The Survivor'. The story seems to take place shortly after his escape from The Pits, where his whole life started to change. My only complaint is, predictably, that I wish it were longer. I wish we had more opportunities to get to know Kelsier before the events of Mistborn, and quite frankly, I'm curious about his crazy 'mentor'. I'd say that this is a must-read for fans of the Mistborn series!


Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater Shiver is a book that I didn't really pay much attention to when it first came out. At the time, I was still very much on the Twilight bandwagon, and the comparisons between Twilight and Shiver made me weary. And then, when I was over my Twilight phase, I couldn't really see myself getting into a similar story. Granted back then, I wasn't familiar with my beloved Maggie Stiefvater. If I had been, I would have picked this series up in a heartbeat. Naturally, now that I have ALL THE LOVE AND FEELS for The Raven Cycle and Stiefvater's SWOONY prose I felt compelled to try out the series, which might just ease the pain as we wait for The Raven King 's release. I'm delighted to report that Shiver managed to sink it's teeth into me and delivered even more than I had expected.

Right from the first pages, I was reminded of all of the reasons why I love Stiefvater's writing. Shiver was gorgeously atmospheric and lyrical right from the start. The writing had this delicious way of making you feel as though you were right there, experiencing everything with it's two main characters, Sam and Grace. The ambience, the cold and the vivid setting drew me in easily and the gorgeous prose kept my attention glued to the pages as I plunged into a world of wolves, wilderness and romance. The story flowed easily and naturally so that before I realized what was happening, I felt surrounded by it, even when I wasn't reading.

Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to the romance in Shiver. At first glance, it had a hint of insta-love to it that I couldn't quite shake. It seemed like very suddenly, Grace and Sam were in a romantic relationship and I wasn't sure how I felt about their devotion to each other. But then, as I continued on with the story and as I thought about it when I wasn't reading, I realized that given their history, it made sense for their relationship to evolve the way it had. In reality, they'd know each other for years! Naturally, it wasn't long until my minor misgivings were forgotten and I was completely invested in all aspects of the story, including the romance. I ship it guys. I ship it hard. Sam and Grace might be teens, but to me they read more like young adults which I really appreciated. They didn't have to change or sacrifice what makes them Sam and Grace in order to be with one another. And unlike most YA paranormal romances, Sam didn't come off possessive or stalkerish with Grace whatsoever. Their relationship was one of the healthiest I've come across in YA paranormals to date!

The actual paranormal aspects of the story were delivered in a fresh and innovative fashion. Here, the wolves transformation isn't dependant on lunar cycles, but instead it's dependant on temperature. Warmth makes them human, while cold turns them into wolves. Additionally, each 'werewolf' only has a finite number of transformations back and forth between wolf and human. Eventually, the person is lost forever and only the wolf remains. I thought it was a great way to spice up a familiar trope and I applaud Maggie Stiefvater for taking werewolves and making them her own. Now that I have read Shiver, I feel like the comparisons to Twilight have been a little unfair. Other than the atmospheric setting and star-crossed romance, there were little other similarities between the two. I mean, if you enjoyed Twilight back in the day, odds are that you'll probably enjoy Shiver, but if I'm being honest, Shiver constantly felt like the superior, better-written story out of the two.

As much as a part of me regrets having waited this long to finally read Shiver, I'm still thrilled that I now have read it. It managed to make a fan out of me, even well passed my YA paranormal romance phase. If you're a fan of gorgeous prose, absorbing settings and paranormal romances - and you still haven't read Shiver - I highly recommend that you check it out. I'd also say the same for fans of anything by Maggie Stiefvater! As it stands, I already can't wait to dive into Linger ;)

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Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas Queen of Shadows. Queen of motherfucking Shadows. There is literally nothing in the world that I could say that could even remotely do the thing justice. I have no words. To say that this book is a turning point in the series would be an understatement. This is where everything in the Throne of Glass Series changes. All bets are off. Characters are transformed. New terrors are revealed. Ships are sunk and new ships are built in their wake. This book is just more of everything. More intense. More violent. More addictive. More terrifying. More swoony. More gut-wrenching. More epic. More.More.More. Strap yourselves in people, you're in for one hell of a ride!

Queen of Shadows picks up right on the heels of Heir of Fire, which ended with all of our beloved characters being transformed, in one way or another. I suppose that it was only natural that, after all of the ordeals they'd been through, all of the trials they suffered and all of the trauma they endured to expect it all to have had a profound effect on everyone involved. But I think it's fair to say that none of us were ready for how much everything had actually changed. I'll admit that it was jarring at first, even for me, to witness how roles had been flipped on their heads, friendships thrown out of whack, ships crumbling and new ships taking shape slowly amidst the wreckage. I was scared, yes, but I also have a ridiculous amount of faith in Miss Sarah J. Maas, so I tried to let go of my worries and enjoy the ride...and before I knew it, I didn't need to try anymore. Sure, I mourned some things that were lost in the fire, but at the same time, I grew excited for what rose from the ashes.

My beloved Celaena/Aelin - henceforth known as Aelin - has fully accepted her destiny and made peace with her past, but that doesn't mean she's not still struggling to make peace with who she is, who she was and who she will be. She is transformed but she is nevertheless the same person on the inside, where it counts. People have been harsh on my beloved heroine in the past because of her cocky swagger and ruthlessness but how many male heroes have we rallied behind that were exactly like her, if not worse?! Aelin is a BAMF and she is and forever will be my queen! *fangirls* Ok so, moving on. There is very little that I can say about the other main characters here without delving into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that there are surprises a plenty! It's true that our beloved characters have been altered, many of them in fiercely drastic ways, but to me, their evolutions made sense. I mean, the things they've all been through as a group since the beginning are staggering. No one would have made it out of the wreckage without some collateral damage. I will say this about the characters though: just like in Heir of Fire, new ones are introduced and some lesser known faces are brought to the forefront, and they've all quickly earned a place in my heart. Beyond that though, my love for Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, Rowan, Manon and her Thirteen has grown tenfold! My heart is full to the brim for all of these characters ♥

In terms of plot, Queen of Shadows hits the ground running and doesn't let up for a second. Things have always been dark in the Throne of Glass Series, but this installment definitely steps it up a notch. Or ten notches. New terrors emerged that chilled me to the bone. Seriously guys. Maas has taken her world to a whole.other.level. Her writing style has matured and she's grown bolder and fearless with her story, her characters. She's not afraid of taking risks and it was exhilarating to behold. I was enthralled from start to finish, and considering how many surprises blew me away here, I can safely say that I have no idea what to expect for the rest of the series, other than more EPICness, more horrors and more feels. SO MANY MORE FEELS.

The bottom line? While I know this was a polarizing chapter in the Throne of Glass Series for many of you, for me, Queen of Shadows was just as addictive, compelling and satisfying as anything I've come to expect from Sarah J. Maas. This book consumed me, heart and soul and spit me out on the other side, a ragged, harrowed lump of feels who now has no idea what to do with herself. Just another version of how I've felt at the end of EVERY DAMN BOOK IN THE SERIES. Is it too soon to start begging/pining/counting down for Throne of Glass #5?!

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Uprooted - Naomi Novik *An ARC was provided by Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

What can I say about Uprooted that hasn't already been said? When this little gem finally caught my attention, I was already late to the party. All of the positive reviews were already flooding in and I remember thinking: Whaaa?!?? Where did that come from? How did I miss this?! You've probably all heard about how it's a story worthy of even the most classic fairytales. How there's this swoon-worthy slow-burn romance. How the villain here is The Wood, an oppressive, faceless presence that corrupts everything it touches and chills you to the bone. You've also probably heard that there's a dragon, but he's actually a man. A wizard, in fact, who keeps the villagers safe from (dun, dun, duuunnn) The Wood. Ok. So if you've all heard about all that stuff, what are we going to talk about here? Well, I'm going to try to gush over discuss aspects of Uprooted that you might not have heard about. Spoiler-free of course ;)

A simple glance at Uprooted (GORGEOUS) book jacket will tell you that The Dragon protects the villagers from The Wood, but at a price. He takes one girl from the village every ten years. Naturally, the Dragon chooses our wonderful protagonist Agnieszka, as a surprise to everyone, including Agnieszka herself. Soon, she's thrown into a world of magic, danger and death and she is changed beyond imagination. I took to Agnieszka straight away. She can come off a bit unassuming at first, but she's loyal to a fault, strong when she needs to be and wickedly adaptable. She isn't the perfect, pretty MC we see too often in YA fiction, but something else altogether. Ironically, the perfect, pretty one is Agnieszka's best friend: Kasia and I have to be honest, their friendship was one of my favorite parts of this book. Agnieszka and Kasia are true friends, like the ones we all had growing up. They have so much love and devotion for one another. I thought was beautiful to see two girls with a friendship like that in YA, without it being tainted by a love-triangle or anything. These ladies might just have the best friendship I've ever read about in a loooong time.

Then of course, there's The Dragon. The Dragon is kind of a jerk sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time. But damn if he isn't fascinating as hell! I couldn't get enough of him. He's wise, powerful and stubborn as they come but it all worked for me. There's one part of the story where Agnieszka sets off on her own adventure, so we don't get to see as much of him and I missed his presence sorely. The romance that develops is, as you've heard a very slow burn. I would add that it's imperfect, messy and even inconvenient at times, but boy oh boy, the chemistry is through the roof! It even avoids being the clichéd kind of all-consuming romance that changes the characters involved and makes them forget their motives. Colour me impressed!

Most of all though, I want to gush about THE MAGIC at play here. The magical system is incantation based, but it has a certain fluidity to it; it's flexible and adaptable. While certain characters have a more rigid approach, others make use of it by instinct and feeling. It seems as though, if the intent is clear, the magic finds a way. It's not an overly-complicated system, but I was blown away by how it all came together, so nuanced and imaginative. There are spells and potions, magical books and swords. Incantations that can be spoken, imagined, even sung! I couldn't get enough and my only complaint is that Uprooted is a standalone so I won't get to bask in it's magic throughout multiple books. I guess I'll just have to reread it again and again. And again and again...

Bottom line: Uprooted is a magical, enchanting and fresh take on the classic fairytale genre. The characters are multi-faceted and never quite what they first seem, which made them all a joy to unravel. Fans of magic, fantasy, and fairytales alike should definitely check this one out - if you haven't done so already. And if you have, well please feel free to gush with me :)

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In the Hand of the Goddess

In the Hand of the Goddess  - Tamora Pierce Actual Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

In the Hand of the Goddess is the sequel to Alanna: The First Adventure, one of my new favorite classic fantasies from this year. Naturally, I was anxious to keep going with this series and see what adventures Alanna would get up to this time around. I listened to this one on audio and despite the fact that I'd read the first one, the transition from book to audiobook was easy. The narrator did a really good job voicing Alanna as well as all of the secondary characters so that was a plus. I will undoubtedly be listening to the rest of the series on audio!

In the Hand of the Goddess picks up not too long after the events of The First Adventure. Alanna, still posing as a boy in the hopes of becoming a knight is now officially a squire to none other than Prince Jonathan himself! With everything that Alanna went through on her way to becoming a squire, and she's become quite the force to be reckoned with, which means two things: 1. she's grown a lot, become stronger and more confident. And 2. she's made some enemies along the way. Powerful ones at that. Soon Alanna is tested even further as a war looms and she must protect her Prince and her Kingdom from its destruction.

Right from the first chapter, I was brought back to what makes this series great. We're introduced to Alanna meeting her very own animal familiar, a magical black cat with matching violet eyes to her own. Instantly, she adopts the sweet thing and names him Faithful. Faithful and Alanna quickly learn that can communicate with one another and that Faithful can sense when Alanna is in danger. Knowing how much I love magical animals and cats in general, I think you all can guess how over the moon I was about this new development. In addition to Faithful, there's the usual variety of unique magical items that seem to the a staple in this series. This time around, there was an enchanted amulet to go along with Alanna's epic sword but I won't divulge what the amulet does, because: spoilers ;)

Despite it's impressive beginning which also included a Goddess, as the name would suggest, I found that In the Hand of the Goddess couldn't quite escape the dreaded 'second-book syndrome'. The war was an engaging twist, but it failed to deliver as much battle-action as I would have liked. Then, there was the new romantic development. As much as Alanna vows to never fall in love, she becomes a young woman in this installment and begins to have feelings for...someone. The focus on the romantic side of things was a little surprising, considering how insistent Alanna has always been about not falling in love. The romance itself wasn't unpleasant. In fact, it was downright believable but it never really successfully made me swoon like the best ships do. Even the final showdown with the main villain (so far) fell a bit flat for me, which was surprising considering that the tension had been building since the first book.

I also have to share about a personal pet-peeve: when authors age up characters up very quickly and/or time jumps ahead by increments for no clear reason. I don't know why, but it bugs me. When I become attached to a character, I like to see them grow/mature in a normal progression. Alanna seemed to go from a young squire to a woman in the blink of an eye. I found myself wishing that Tamora Pierce had slowed things down considerably, even if it meant that Alanna had stayed younger for longer. I feel like she was aged up quickly just to add romantic tension to a story where the heroine didn't really need romance to begin with. At least not straight away. I just wanted to see my girl grow up normally!

Regardless, In the Hand of the Goddess was a solid follow up, even if it fell short of its predecessor. I enjoyed being reunited with Alanna, returning to Tortall, and watching the wonderful magic grow and evolve anew. I cheered along with all of Alanna's friends as she made the journey into Knighthood, which was filled with it's fair share of exciting ups and downs, not to mention a few good twists thrown in for good measure! This series is a must for classic fantasy readers and I'll definitely be reading all of the rest of the books by Tamora Pierce.

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Apollyon - Jennifer L. Armentrout Actual rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Apollyon is the fourth book in The Covenant Series and as some of you might know, I like to take my time with series, so while I started reading the first book three years ago, I'm only reading book number 4 now. In most cases, this works out fine for me. If I'm willing to continue with the series, it means I'm invested enough in it that the time in between books doesn't really factor into my enjoyment. With this series however, I think it would have been in my best interest to read them all back to back. My reading tastes have evolved quite a bit since then and a lot of stuff that I used to enjoy - or at least tolerate - tends to get on my nerves now. So as much as I'm invested in seeing this series through at this point, I have some issues now that weren't there before...

So. Apollyon tells of the continuing adventures of Alex as she trains up to fight daimons, or gods, or the other Apollyon...ok basically everyone. Alex is training to fight them all! After the events of the previous books, Alex is now a fully awakened Apollyon herself, which isn't without it's complications. First, she was basically Seth 2.0, which was entertaining and new to say the least. Finally, she fought that off and became more or less herself again, with the exception of her eyes, which match Seth's still. Alex has been through a lot and she's matured quite a bit, but she's still as feisty and impulsive as ever. I liked how she was back to training again now, despite being out of school and how her new powers came into play. She's basically an elemental now and we all know how much I love those. And when you pair elemental magic with mythology and gods? Well you certainly have my attention!

As usual, this installment is romance-heavy. I wouldn't say it's the main focus, but it's right up there with Alex's faith and the faith of the world. The romance used to be my favorite thing about the series. Sure, there was a love-triangle for a bit there, but to me, it was always obvious who Alex would end up with. This time around, as much as the romance was satisfying and pretty much triangle-less, I grew tired of hearing about how perfect Aiden is. We get it, he's ridiculously handsome, he could have been chiseled out of marble, he's reminiscent of Greek gods. *eye roll* I think the worst bit was that his eyes changed color every other sentence. Aiden's eyes were liquid silver. Aiden's eyes went gunmetal grey. His eyes went from silver to steel in an instant. *groan* Normal people with normal eyes can be just as appealing as this stuff! I can't be the only one who thinks so?! Also, I've heard of people whose eyes change color, but do they REALLY change colors every two seconds? I don't think so.

I don't know if it was the constant eye-changes or that I just outgrew this series but I struggled to get through Apollyon, and it's not because it's a big book. I put it on pause for weeks. Weeks! I was curious about the outcome, and I knew I'd get back to it, I just couldn't seem to focus. There were a few other issues as well, firstly, I guessed the identity of the ''mystery God'' right from the word go, so the big reveal at the end was anticlimactic. And second, Miss JLA actually wrote in text-speak. TMI? More like WTF?! Despite it all, with one book left in the series, I know I'll finish the thing. I will say that the novella that comes before this Elixir (Covenant #3.5) is pretty much a must, otherwise you'd miss an important chunk of information and plot about Alex, her transformation, Aiden, and well, the elixir itself. The novella was fun because it's written from Aiden's POV, and despite his annoying habit to change his eyes every other scene, he's still pretty dreamy.

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The Novice: Summoner: Book One (The Summoner Trilogy)

The Novice: Summoner: Book One (The Summoner Trilogy) - Taran Matharu *An ARC was provided by Raincoast Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

The Novice is a debut YA-fantasy novel by author <>Taran Matharu. It's a fun, easy and unique read that has simultaneously clearly been influenced by Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings - haven't we all?! In fact, I'd add His Dark Materials to the mix, because there are demons here that reminded me of the daemons Lira and her friends had in that series as well. In The Novice, we meet Fletcher, an orphaned peasant boy who lives very un-magically in a small village as a blacksmith's apprentice. That is, until he summons a Salamander demon by chance, almost gets killed by the village bully, has to go on the run and leave the life he's always know, and ends up recruited, along with his demon into a magical school. There, he will begin training along with other humans, dwarves and even elves, in the hopes of becoming a magical soldier and help fight a war against Orcs. (!!) All of the elements of this fantasy world are familiar on their own, but Taran Matharu does a good job of putting them together in a unique way without overtly imitating the source material.

Character-wise, The Novice has a nice variety of your familiar tropes, and some new ones thrown in for good measure. As the main character, Fletcher was very likeable and engaging, despite being a bit run-of-the-mill. He's your standard good-guy character, who faces adversity left and right but you're always rooting for him, no matter what. I liked his origin story a lot but I don't feel like I got to know him as much as I would have liked. Granted it is the first book in the series, so there's still plenty of time to expand on his character. I appreciated that, once Fletcher got to the Academy, he wasn't instantly gifted in his Battlemage training. Despite his natural skill with a blade, and his clever mind, he struggled quite a bit with certain aspects of magic. It made his entire experience at the Academy much more real to me.

It isn't long before Fletcher befriends other students at the Academy, including other commoners, a dwarf and a female elf. I liked that Fletcher was so willing to befriend different magical beings, it reminded me of Harry Potter and his willingness to value the lives of goblins and house elves equally to wizards. A standout among Fletcher's new friends was Othello, the dwarf. I liked his easy friendship with Fletcher and how they had each other's back no matter what. As a matter of fact, the dwarves as a whole were an aspect I can't wait to learn more about here. Sylva the Elf was another character that I would like to know more about, especially her people since we don't really get to know her people. As far as the teachers at the Academy, I liked Valens and Arcturus but neither one got nearly enough page-time in my opinion. Hopefully in future books, they'll get the attention they deserve.

On the villain side of things, I was a little less impressed. Within his first days at school, Fletcher encounters two nobles, a twin boy and girl and instantly sparks fly. Tarquin and Isadora are the equivalent of Draco Malfoy - if Draco had an equally vile twin sister O.O And then there's a substitute teacher who shows up named Rook, who has an affinity for the nobility, especially the twins I just mentioned, and who is unfairly harsh on Fletcher. Sounds a little too familiar doesn't it? There was talk of Inquisitors that sounded quite sinister and a King who sounds a bit like a tyrant but the story doesn't make its way to them just yet. I'm definitely curious to know more on both counts!

Despite the lackluster bad-guys, the only other issue I had with The Novice was the pacing - it felt off at times. We spent a lot of time with Fletcher before he gets to The Academy, but once he's there, the story would randomly jump ahead from time to time, sometimes months were skimmed over and even though nothing might have happened, the jumps were somewhat offputting. I would have liked to spend more time in the day-in, day-out routine at the Academy to get a better feel of how life was for Fletcher and the other students. Similarly, the ending had all the action that was going down felt rushed for some reason. It wasn't that I wished the actual battles would have dragged on, but it seemed like they were training for the event for ever and then, in a blink it was over. Minor issues aside, The Novice was and enjoyable story that kept me turning the pages until the very end. I'll definitely be continuing with the series and I look forward to delving deeper into this world! Fantasy readers of all age ranges should check this one out.

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Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell *Actual rating: 1.5 Stars*

Eleanor & Park was my second Rainbow Rowell read (after Fangirl) and probably THE most popular and hyped book the author has put out so far. So, I suppose that I don't have to tell you guys that my hopes were pretty high for this one. As much as contemporaries aren't particularly my genre, I really enjoyed Fangirl and I felt sure that Eleanor & Park would be a win for me. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love it...I didn't. Now before anyone starts throwing rocks in my direction, let me be clear: I didn't hate this book either. I just didn't especially enjoy it nor did I get all that many feels compared to how swept away I felt with my previous Rowell read. Soooo, if the mere thought of someone not liking this book fills you with murderous rage - or you know, makes you think you won't like me anyone after you read this - then you should probably turn away now.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty here, I should share that I listened to Eleanor & Park on audio and I did not care for the narrators at.all. There was a guy doing Park's chapters and a woman doing Eleanor's but to be honest, neither one of them did the greatest job of capturing either of the character's tone. The guy doing Park wasn't too bad though he sounded bored throughout most of it. And don't get me started on the chick. She sounded flat and uninterested at best and at worst she failed to capture Eleanor's snark and sarcasm completely. I just feel like their voices caused me to be harsher with this book than I might've otherwise, so I wanted to put that out there before we move on to anything else.

At it's core, Eleanor & Park is a romance, one that I expected to make me swoon something fierce. Only it didn't. I didn't buy into Eleanor and Park becoming a couple - especially not as quickly as they did here. I wouldn't necessarily call it insta-love, but they went from hating each other to tingly feelings without much in between and to be honest, it bothered me. Granted, they're both in high school and those kinds of romances can happen pretty quick, but at the same time, it was like they couldn't even stand to look at each other at first. Park thought Eleanor was a weird, gross freak and Eleanor just though Park was ''that stupid Asian kid''. Then they barely talk while somewhat warming up to one another until it turns into mad love. It simply did not work for me and it's hard to become invested in a romance when you fail to see any real chemistry between the two main characters. A part of me feels like the story would have worked better if Eleanor and Park had just been friends...Sigh.

As individual characters, both Eleanor and Park should have worked for me. Both feel like outcasts and struggle to fit in at high school. Eleanor worries about her body, her looks, she's bullied and her family life sucks hard, to say the least. Park tries to coast under the bullies radar but his mixed heritage and unique tastes that set him apart from the mainstream. You'd think I'd have connected with both of them, but instead I felt 'meh'. As much as I pitied Eleanor for being bullied and her terrible home life, it seemed odd to me that she was the only one in that school who seemed to be dealing with discrimination. I mean, when I was in high school, pretty much no one was safe from teasing and name calling, regardless of sex, race or whatever. Conversely, Park is dubbed a ''misfit'', but he didn't seem to be suffering through any prejudice or bullying. Like, at all. It was like, out of an entire high school full of students, Eleanor is the only target, because she's supposed to be fat. Erm, ok...O.O

Needless to say, that when I got to the end of Eleanor & Park, I was already feeling underwhelmed. At that point though, I wanted to know what happened with the rest of Eleanor's family. What the hell happened after she left? Where did they all go? I know that the book focuses on the romance but her family issues were still at the forefront throughout the book and I needed some closure - the story still seems unfinished to me. And as much as I enjoyed Fangirl, I had a similar complaint about it feeling unfinished too. As for any feels? Well since I didn't buy into the romance from the start, I didn't especially feel heartbroken by how things go down, which is surprising since I'm quite sentimental and emotional. I did enjoy the references to 80's music and popular culture, but that's about the only plus I can think of at the moment. Which is sad. I honestly wonder if maybe reading the book instead of listening to it might have changed my impression here, but my issues do seem to go beyond the flat narration of the audiobook, which was unfortunate enough. I had hoped that Rainbow Rowell would deliver for me once again but sadly, it wasn't the case. And just when I thought that I was getting the hang of contemporaries. Sigh.

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Sabriel  - Garth Nix Sabriel is classic fantasy book that has been on my reading list since 2011 (according to Goodreads). Basically, I knew I wanted to read it since I first read the blurb, but for whatever reason, I didn't give it the attention I knew it deserved. Until now. Having finished the audio version yesterday - narrated by the fantastic Tim Curry - I find myself wondering: WHAT WAS I THINKING not reading this sooner? WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? WHAT IS LIFE? Gah! Yes, this book is THAT good. I officially have a new favorite on my hands, and that hasn't happened in a long time.

Sabriel is the kind of fantasy story I live for. Why? Because it's brilliantly and realistically plotted. There are intense, edge of your seat scenes, perfectly mixed into those slower, more normal moments, which other people might find slow, but I found that it made the story feel more concrete and plausible, despite being a straight up fantasy read. Let's face it: life isn't always action and suspense. Life is made up of moments. Some are intense and others are more ordinary but it's those simple moments that make the big, poignant moments stand out all the more! There's a sense of urgency that's woven into every single aspect of this story and that builds all the more within those dark moments, until you feel like you're going to jump out of your skin. I won't go into the finer details here, because I want to let the story speak for itself, but to say that I was captivated from the word go would be an understatement.

Beyond the plot, Sabriel boasts an intensely atmospheric tone that wraps itself around you and takes you for one hell of a ride. It's dark, dangerous and outright scary at times. I know it's considered to be a YA book, but Sabriel is an 18 year old young woman and I found that the plot and tone both reflected that more mature YA-feel. Beyond the character's age, the magical system reflected a greater maturity as well, incorporating unique magic, psychic abilities and above all, necromancy. There are good necromancers who help usher the dead spirits into death (like Sabriel herself), and then there are vile necromancers who can do anything from possess dead bodies, spirits and even, in extreme cases, fashion themselves into immortal beings of pure evil. Beyond the mystery of the necromantic aspects, the magical system works with sounds. A necromancer has special bells, whose sounds have different powers, but in a pinch, they can whistle the notes to the same effect. I found this to be quite innovative and unlike most magical systems I've encountered in my fantasy reads.

Let's talk more about our heroine here. Sabriel is a young adult with a level head and a strong sense of what's right and wrong. She came off as something entirely different from all of the other main characters I've ever encountered which seems increasingly rare nowadays. She wasn't soft by any means, but she wasn't too hard either. She had a warm heart but she never let it cloud her judgement or stop her from doing what needs to be done. Sabriel, being one of the good necromancers, can sense death. She can travel from our realm into the realm of the dead, where the spirits reside. Since a very young age, her father, one of the most powerful good necromancers in existence has been teaching her the ways of the dead. It soon becomes obvious why this girl seems so mature - she's obviously had much of her innocence taken from her at an early age by the sobering reality of death. Despite that, she remains kind and caring of the people around her.

As the blurb above says, Sabriel sets off on her quest alone. I admired the hell out of her for that, especially since you don't often encounter that in YA fiction, especially when the main character is a female. She faces more than one harrowing ordeal before she finally gets herself a few traveling companions. First there's Mogget, a magical white cart, who isn't really a cat at all. Knowing me, I'm sure none of you will be surprised at my love for Mogget. He was snarky and sassy and quite frankly, scary at times but he was a joy to get to know through and through. Eventually, they meet up with a young man called Touchstone, who I loved as well. Touchtone is something of a mystery but I like how he and Sabriel slowly warmed up to one another and became great allies.

As any quality questing story, Sabriel has quite a few twists and turns before the end, and I adored every second of it! This is a story surrounded by death, but it managed to carry a lot of light within it as well. The story has a lot of darkness, but it was sweet and sad and clever all at once. I laughed, I teared up on more than one occasion but through it all, I was hooked. I know that I'm incredibly late to the party with this one, but I also know that a lot of fellow fantasy lovers have yet to read this one as well. All I can say to that is: READ.THIS.BOOK. You have no idea what you're missing! I honestly can't praise the story enough, and I know my words aren't doing it justice but nevertheless I want EVERYONE to read this book! This was my first experience with author Garth Nix, but I can assure you all that it won't be the last. In fact, I plan on diving into the sequel very soon.

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A main character in english fiction with the same name as me?! An MC with my name who also kicks ass (the publisher's words, not mine)? Oh, I AM SO in. Horror or no, I am reading this bad boy :D

Knight's Shadow

Knight's Shadow - Sebastien de Castell Ok. I think it's time. I let this drag on long enough. I was determined to finish this one but I have been reading it since MAY. Every.single.time. that I attempt to get back into it I want to claw my eyes out. I can't do it. I don't know what happened between the first book (which I enjoyed) and this one, but it doesn't even feel like the same series. The humor is gone, the quick pacing is gone, the compulsive readability is gone. I might try it again down the line, but for now? It's official. I GIVE UP.

The Archived

The Archived - Victoria Schwab The Archived is without a doubt one of the most original stories I have ever come across. Considering the fact that I read a lot of epic-fantasy, that^^ is saying something. Truth be told, I've had this book on my tbr shelf since it first came out, before I even had a clue who author Victoria (V.E.) Schwab was, but true to form, she delivered yet another memorable and creative story that is sure to linger in your head for days, even weeks after you've read the last page.

The Archived is, at it's core, a mystery. Sure it has sci-fi elements, given the fact that there's this other part of our world where the dead are kept in archive - and yet another part that's sort of in between our world and the Archive (called the Narrows) where the dead 'memories' can escape to if they awaken - but at it's basest level, this is a mystery, and a good one at that. I don't want to give anything away so I won't say more, other than it certainly did a good job of keeping me guessing right till the very end, which is no small feat, especially for a young adult book. As a naturally curious person, I found myself literally driven to distraction trying to figure out all of it's secrets from the very first pages. Told in present tense, with shorter flashbacks scattered throughout, the construction of the plot itself felt like it was made to keep readers guessing; something that it accomplished beautifully.

Truth be told, I found the pacing to be quite slow moving fat the start there. I was intrigued, fascinated even by the world I was discovering as well as its characters, but most of what was going on was introductions. The story itself didn't feel like it was moving forward much and I kept waiting for the actual plot to reveal itself. But then, when I got passed that first 40%, the plot really picked up and things started to fall into place. At that point, I could not put the book down to save my life. I plowed through the remaining 60% in no time flat and despite a few lingering questions, I was largely satisfied with the story.

The Archived features a relatively small cast, which I tend to enjoy. It just feels like you get to know everyone so much easier and makes for a more personal read. Mackenzie, our protagonist was chosen to work for the Archive. She can travel between the Outer (our reality) to the Narrows and the Archive. She basically hunts down any histories - basically ghosts or memories of people who have died - and returns them to the Archive, where they are kept. Because of her job, she can also read objects, which I though was especially cool. All she has to do is touch an object, search within for a thread of memory and then she reels back time, like rewinding a film and she can see the past imprinted on any given object. It's a gift that can help her know more about any woken or escaped histories and track them down...but it can also get her into trouble. And it does. I thought that Mackenzie as a character was wonderful. A bit lost and alone, but a fighter through it all. I understood her curiosity, especially with what was going on in her life, so I felt a lot for her. I finished the book wishing that we could be friends and to me, those are the best sorts of characters. Character-wise, there's also Wesley, a neighbor of Mackenzie's, which soon becomes a friend and confidante. Wesley was a real treat, I loved his humor and how offbeat he was. Another notable character was Roland, one of the people working in the actual Archive. He was a bit more mysterious but captivating all the same and I won't say more on him, because, spoilers!

I think what struck me the most about The Archived was the setting and atmosphere. Because we're dealing with 'Histories' which are basically sleeping ghosts, the Archive itself always had this sort of hushed tone that clung to everything in this story. Even the Narrows where the Histories go to when they wake was relatively quiet, despite the fact that there was a lot of action going on there when it came to actually recapturing the Histories. Considering that this was a pretty intense mystery, the inherent quiet sort of became it's own character here and it gave everything an eerie calm.

Looking back, I could have used more information on the Histories and their reason for being. It was mentioned that the dead were kept this way to preserve memories, but what were they doing with these memories remains a mystery. Hopefully there will be more information on that front in The Unbound, or even the upcoming, as of yet untitled third book. There was also a couple of romances or potential romances here, which felt a bit out of place for some reason, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's because there were two of them, and one very abrupt, but it didn't really bother me all that much. It just didn't quite fit in as nicely as the other aspects of the book.

All things considered, The Archived was a great read. I'm already looking forward to discovering more about this world and it's characters. Definitely recommended for fans of sci-fi mysteries, as well as fans of Victoria Schwab.

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Elixir - Jennifer L. Armentrout Perfect way to get back into the flow of this series. Plus, Aiden's POV. Awesome. I really enjoyed getting to know him a bit better. Poor Alex though o_O

For I Have Sinned

For I Have Sinned (Charley Davidson, #3.5) - Darynda Jones How? How does a story so short on words manage to garner such an emotional response?! This was sweet and heart-breaking at the same time. A free e-novella that fans of the series should really check out^^

Currently reading

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson