Bookish Bingo

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Woohoo! Bekka from Pretty Deadly Reviews is hosting a round of Bookish Bingo throughout March/April and I’m excited to be taking part. I’ll be posting about my progress here and on Twitter.

So, the point of Bookish Bingo is to get as many bingos as possible. The more bingos, the more giveaway entries. All types of books (fiction, non-fiction, novellas) count, but you can only have one square per book. Also, for a book to count, it must have been read between March 1st and May 31st.

If you would also like to participate, head over to Pretty Deadly Reviews and leave a comment on the Bookish Bingo post.

The card:

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What other book related games/activities do you participate in?

 

Review | Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

cover60991-mediumSiren’s Fury by Mary Weber
Release date: June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

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When I requested this on NetGalley I didn’t realize it was the sequel to Storm Siren, the first book in a trilogy by Mary Weber. So, I backtracked and read the first book in the series and absolutely loved it! Storm Siren had a completely shocking and brutal cliff-hanger ending that felt like a slap in the face. I needed to know what would happen next and to be honest, was glad that I didn’t have to wait months for the followup.

The story focuses on Nym, a former slave, who reluctantly used her elemental storm powers to save her home kingdom of Faelen from losing a war against the neighbouring kingdom of Bron and the evil Draewulf. Draewulf is extremely powerful and has the ability to inhabit the bodies of others. In Siren’s Fury, Draewulf has destroyed Nym’s powers and taken over the body of someone close to her. Now she has to find a different way to obtain new powers to become strong enough to defeat Draewulf.

Nym is a wonderful, strong female character. Coming from her background as a slave who was sold from home to home, it’s amazing how selfless she is. She’ll do anything to protect her kingdom, even though many of those in it have mistreated her in the past. However, she isn’t a perfect heroine. She’s in a constant struggle to stay on the straight and narrow because she is so determined to defeat Draewulf. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she made in the book, but I do understand why she made them. The supporting characters were also solid. Lord Myles was a particular favourite of mine. He’s totally evil and manipulative, but his dialogue was great and lots of fun! I can’t help but love snarky characters.

I’m very happy that I discovered Siren’s Fury. The writing, world building and characters are all engaging and wonderfully done. Also, I am now eagerly (like need it NOW) anticipating the third book in the series because there was another cliff hanger and my heart cannot deal with it.

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2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge – February Update

image2The 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge is hosted by Bookish Lifestyle. It can be of any genre, length, or format of book as long as it is a book that’s been sitting on your self for some time. Short stories and novellas do count! The only stipulation is that the book must have been released in 2015 or earlier. No books from 2016!

Another month done already?! I can’t believe how fast everything is moving. I’m quite proud of myself this month. I read (or at least started) every older book on my TBR list that I planned on reading month. I am halfway through Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi and should finish it sometime this coming week.

What I Planned On Reading:

  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
  • Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

What I Actually Read:

  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  • Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Did Not Finish (as of yet):

  • Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Review | The Daughters of Palatine Hill by Phyllis T. Smith

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

26084412The Daughters of Palatine Hill by Phyllis T. Smith
Release date: February 16th, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

Two years after Emperor Augustus’s bloody defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, he triumphantly returns to Rome. To his only child, Julia, he brings an unlikely companion—Selene, the daughter of the conquered Egyptian queen and her lover.

Under the watchful eye of Augustus’s wife, Livia, Selene struggles to accept her new home among her parents’ enemies. Bound together by kinship and spilled blood, these three women—Livia, Selene, and Julia—navigate the dangerous world of Rome’s ruling elite, their every move a political strategy, their most intimate decisions in the emperor’s hands.

Always suppressing their own desires for the good of Rome, each must fulfill her role. For astute Livia, this means unwavering fidelity to her all-powerful husband; for sensual Julia, surrender to an arranged marriage and denial of her craving for love and the pleasures of the flesh; for orphaned Selene, choosing between loyalty to her family’s killers and her wish for revenge.

Can they survive Rome’s deadly intrigues, or will they be swept away by the perilous currents of the world’s most powerful empire?

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The Daughters of Palatine Hill by Phyllis T. Smith completely captivated me from the start. It is told from the perspectives of three women: Julia, the daughter of Roman Emperor Augustus, Livia, his wife and Selene, the daughter of the now deceased Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. I have read several young adult books based on the life of Selene and her inclusion in the book is ultimately what drew me to it.

All three women go through so much heartbreak, sacrifice and danger. It’s not safe or easy being close to the Emperor of Rome. They cannot really make any of their own decisions and are basically pawns in the constant battle for power and influence. Livia was bound to Augustus in an arranged marriage and Julia is expected to marry according to her father’s choices and produce an heir. Selene was constantly fighting for survival as it wasn’t easy being the daughter of a vanquished enemy.

While Selene wasn’t the focus on the novel, Julia’s story of rebellion and longing drew me in. I totally emphasized with her situation and need to be free from her father’s will. I cannot imagine what I would have done in a similar situation, but I found myself cheering her on when she followed her heart and feeling utterly devastated when she was suppressed. I greatly admire the author’s ability to craft such a vivid character. In the books I have read in the past, Julia is usually not as relatable and it has given me a different perspective.

This wasn’t an action driven novel and isn’t short by any means, but I never lost interest. I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction or have an interest in ancient Rome. This is the author’s second novel (her first being I Am Livia), and while they have a similar topic, The Daughters of Palatine Hill can be enjoyed as a standalone. I am now looking forward to reading the first novel about Livia’s early life.

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OwlCrate + Uppercase Book Boxes

My OwlCrate and Uppercase subscription boxes for February have arrived! I am really happy with the boxes this month…so many pretties!

For those of you unfamiliar with OwlCrate, it is a monthly YA subscription box that features a newly released book as well as 3-4 bookish items that are set around a theme. The theme for February was “Sci-Fi Love”. This is what the box contained:

  • A Lunar Chronicles tote bag featuring the names of popular couples from the series.
  • A wooden TARDIS brooch made by Vector Engraving.
  • A paperback version of H.G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine by Rock Paper Books.
  • A hardcover copy of The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry which was also accompanied by a signed bookplate and letter from the author.

I was doubly surprised by receiving two books this month! I have never read The Time Machine and The Love That Split the World sounds really interesting. The cover is also gorgeous!

 

Uppercase is also a young adult book-of-the-month subscription box. You receive a recently published YA novel and some additional book-related items. This month the box (or cloth bag) contained:

  • An exclusive Anne of Green Gables infinity scarf.
  • A signed hardcover copy of Starflight by Melissa Landers.
  • A Starflight bookmark, quote poster and nail wraps.

Last month Truthwitch and now Starflight?! I nearly squealed with joy!! I have had my eye on this book for a while now and the reviews have been really positive. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the nail wraps, but the Anne of Green Gables scarf is so light and soft…I can’t wait to wear it!

Friday Finds

jhihioooo.001Friday Finds is a meme hosted by Books and a Beat. It was created to showcase all the books we’ve added to our TBR piles in the past week.

Yay! This past week my OwlCrate and Uppercase Box subscriptions arrived and I found a whole bunch of new books to read on NetGalley. I love the books that were included in the boxes this month (more to come on those later). Anyway, here are my finds for this week…

Review | Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

27856632Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
Release date: December 15th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

Roan and Kay are orphans.

A fire destroys their old life, but they have one chance to enter the School of Faith.

They are given one month to pass the entry trials, but as Roan excels and Kay fails, their devotion to each other is put to the test.

They swore they would face everything together, but when the stakes are losing the life they’ve always dreamed of, what will they do to stay together?

What won’t they do?

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What can I say? I have loved every book so far in the Echoes of the Ascended series by Mark Gelineau and Joe King. I cannot stop gushing about how fantastic each story is. Faith and Moonlight is less than 100 pages but the authors have done a wonderful job at continuing to build the world of Aedaron and provide the reader with further information about people or places mentioned in the other stories.

This book tells the story of Roan and Kay, two orphans who have been given an opportunity to join the Razor school of Faith in the capital. In the previous books, Razors (magical warriors) were always portrayed as being evil, but here the reader gets another perceptive. Razors receive their power from a connection to the ancient warriors of Aedaron and must make this connection or “pierce the veil” to be trained at the school. The two protagonists must do this in one month or lose out at the chance to change their lives.

As with their other short stories, Faith and Moonlight explores complex human relationships and emotions: loyalty, rejection, jealously, etc. I really felt for both of the characters, which is quite a feat as the author’s have only a limited amount of pages to connect the reader to the characters. I can totally identify with Kay’s wanting to succeed and belong somewhere without hurting those around you.

If you haven’t already, please pick up one of the books from the Echoes of the Ascended series. I thoroughly enjoyed Faith and Moonlight and look forward to reading more about Roan and Kay.

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Thursday Quotables

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Thursday Quotables
 is a weekly meme hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.

I love teaching, especially when I can get my students excited about books. And it looks like all my gushing over the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows has paid off. Here is one my favourite quotes from Siege and Storm:

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

Review | The Lost Heir by Allison Whitmore

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

cover82755-mediumThe Lost Heir by Allison Whitmore
Release date: December 7th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

Isabella Foxworthy was just another girl…until she learned she was an empath, able to read the energy of others. A secret world known as the Violet City lies beneath her family’s hotel in Los Angeles. Through this discovery, Isabella is catapulted into a whirlwind of magic, adventure, and danger. The Violet City holds the key to protecting her stability; her family hotel, her friends, and her very sanity. With morphlings, empaths, and fair folk also comes a powerful entity that twists her mind into knots, threatening everything she loves. Now, Isabella and her new friends—a guitar-playing jock, his gifted but neurotic brother, and a set of over-indulged twins—have until her 16th birthday to save her world with the help of someone who’s been lost for a very long time…the lost Foxworthy heir. But will they find him in time? And will he be a friend or foe?

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I totally requested this book on NetGalley based solely on its cover, which I think is beautiful and mysterious. So far my selection of books based on their covers hasn’t gone so well, but this book broke my streak of poor choices. I really enjoyed it! I was instantly drawn to the main character Isabella who has the ability to really identify with the emotions of others. She’s an orphan who lives with her grandmother in the family’s old hotel in Los Angeles. Just before her fifteenth birthday Isabella discovers that she is an empath and in order to save her powers and the secret Empath Society she must rekindle the “purple fire”. Isabella then embarks on a dangerous journey into a magical world that she didn’t know existed.

The premise and characters of this book were very well written and interesting. I liked how it was told through Isabella’s thoughts as it really let you get inside her head. She was an easy character to identify with. While she’s a strong female character, Isabella isn’t alone. There is a whole cast of fully formed supporting characters that help her along on her journey and of course there was a bit of romance! The plot was full of twists and turns which kept you curious and wanting to know what would happen next. The main author of the book was Whitmore, but two other authors also contributed. This could have resulted in a confused mess, but I think the input from all three women helped create a quick and easy flowing read.

My only complaint was that the book had a slow start. However, once you get through the first few chapters things really pick up and it’s fast paced. I totally understand the slow start though as the authors use this time to introduce the main character, her circumstances and set things up for the rest of the novel.

All in all, it was an interesting read that I would recommend to others who enjoy books from the fantasy genre. It focuses on teenagers, but could easily be enjoyed by adults as well.

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Review | Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm
Release date: December 15th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she’s bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt.

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers.

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I was so excited to get approved for this book on NetGalley (the plot and subject matter really intrigued me), but ultimately I was disappointed. Annabeth Neverending is a romantic fantasy novel told through Annabeth’s point of view in the modern day and occasionally in flashbacks to her previous life as Ana, daughter of Ramses II. Basically, Annabeth is a regular teenager who works at a flea market. While there, she is drawn to an ancient ankh pendant that transports her to her former life as tragic Egyptian princess who falls in love with her bodyguard. What happens in her past life has a direct impact on the present and those in it.

The main issue with the book was that it was lacking in many ways. At times it didn’t have enough details and seemed beyond believable, which is difficult because it is a fantasy novel about reincarnation! The book could have done with a few more edits and definitely more details to fill in the blanks. Everything was just so rushed! For example, Annabeth quickly figured out and accepted that she was the reincarnated Ana and didn’t really panic or freak out as would be expected. She simply tells her boss, Ms. Lansing, about her visions and get this, Ms. Lansing believes her! No questions asked. Also, I hate insta-love. I just cannot believe it at all and it’s inclusion in young adult books really bothers me. Annabeth had one date with Gabriel and all of a sudden she’s madly in love with him and thinks he’s “the one”. Seriously. It’s ridiculous and silly! The love triangle that develops between Annabeth, Gabriel and his twin-brother C.J. made me worried at times. Bouncing between both boys, her awkward sexual fantasies about one when dating the other and C.J.’s often violent/possessive outbursts made me want to scream at Annabeth. It really sent out a poor message to young women. Oh, and the slut shaming by Annabeth and her friends further soured my view of the book.

Overall, Annabeth Neverending was not a book that I enjoyed. I often found myself grasping at straws and had to push myself to continue. Ultimately, I became very frustrated and just skimmed through the last quarter of the the book. I’m just really sad that it turned out this way. It could have been quite good if only it was executed in a different way.

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