Mini Reviews: The Daemoniac & The Haunted House Project

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

31031301The Daemoniac by Kat Ross
Release date: October 12th, 2016
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook

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It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Over the past year, Kat Ross has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I couldn’t get enough of her Fourth Element trilogy (a must read fantasy series based on mythology and history) and was ridiculously excited to start this book. Let me say that it did not disappoint. I loved, loved, loved it!!!! The Daemoniac is a perfect blend of horror, mystery and historical fiction. It had me on the edge of my seat from the start and continuously kept me guessing. I can best describe it as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s dark, moody and a tiny bit creepy — basically everything I adore all rolled into one!

The Daemoniac opens with Harry Fearing Pell taking on her first case as a private investigator. A couple have asked her to find their missing friend, however, Harry is not who they think she is. The couple believe that she is her sister, Myrtle Fearing Pell, a detective known for solving the most difficult of cases. Harry sees this as her chance to step out of her sister’s shadow and takes on the case. However, what initially seemed simple quickly becomes dark and complicated when it’s discovered that the subject of their investigation was involved in witchcraft and murder.

What made this book standout was its characters. Yes, the story was fantastic but it wouldn’t have been so engaging without interesting characters that I truly cared about. The story’s main character, Harry, was totally badass. She flaunted society’s expectations that of what a woman should be. Harry wasn’t necessarily running around throwing punches, but she was incredibly smart and used that to her advantage. The Daemoniac is also Harry’s coming-of-age story. It’s an examination of how sometimes we need to fight for what we believe in and how even though sometimes others don’t believe in us, we are capable and worthy. We all just need to believe in ourselves. It’s all about female empowerment!

I also loved the feel and atmosphere of this novel. It’s set in 1880s New York, a time period known as the Gilded Age, but actually takes places mostly in the seedy areas of the city. It’s really rough and tumble with street gangs, underground clubs and creepy séances. The descriptions really set the mood for the book and enabled me to imagine every setting with incredible detail. It also established this tension that kept me turning the page. What would happen next? Was what happened real? I had so many questions throughout and once I thought something was about to happen, the story took a turn elsewhere. I love these types of books. It was such an adventure and one that didn’t want to end. Thank goodness there’s a sequel because I’m most definitely not done with these characters yet!


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

26053362The Haunted House Project by Tricia Clasen
Release date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Fiction, middle grade
Format: Hardcover

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Goodreads | Amazon

Since her mom died, Andie’s family has crumbled. Instead of working, her dad gambles away insurance money, while her sister, Paige, has put her future on hold in order to pick up extra waitressing shifts. Andie’s afraid of what will happen if people find out just how bad things are. She’s not sure how long she can hide the fact that there’s no food or money in the house…or adults, for that matter.

When her science partner suggests they study paranormal activity, Andie gets an idea. She wants a sign from her mom—anything to tell her it’s going to be okay. Maybe the rest of her family does too. So she starts a project of her own. Pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Andie sprays perfume, changes TV channels, and moves pictures. Haunting her house is Andie’s last hope to bring her family back into the land of the living.

For anyone who loved Counting by 7s, The Haunted House Project is a journey through loss and grief, but ultimately a story of hope and self-reliance. As much as Andie has been changed by her mother’s death, the changes she makes herself are the ones that are most important.

I received this book randomly from Sky Pony Press and didn’t really think much of it. I hadn’t requested it and its target audience was middle grade. I also thought it was about a “haunted house,” so definitely not my “thing” (I really should have read the synopsis). This poor book languished on my shelf for months until I finally decided to pick it up. I needed something to read before my trip that would quick and easy to get through. Well, everything I thought that this book would be, simple, childish, silly, was completely wrong! The Haunted House Project was heartbreaking and oh so beautiful. I really enjoyed it!

The story is about Andie, a middle grader who had recently lost her mother in a car accident. All Andie wants is for things to be as they were before her life was forever changed. Her sister works long hours at a diner and has become withdrawn, quitting the sports that had once made her happy. Andie’s dad is always absent, gambling away their money and drinking heavily. So, in order to bring her family together and remind them about what her mother would have wanted, Andie decides to pretend that her mother is haunting the family.

Besides all of the family drama that Andie has to deal with, the book also discusses friend dynamics. I remember how painful it was to learn that sometimes the people you thought would always be your friend aren’t anymore. The author did such a good job navigating the complexities of friendships and how children react to things when they fall apart or don’t go their way.

This book is really a must read! My heart ached for Andie, she went through so much and her development was really remarkable. I usually don’t read middle grade books but this one taught me that I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover or title. Sometimes you just never know what you’ll find if you give it a chance!

Review | Ruined by Amy Tintera

26074185Ruined by Amy Tintera
Release date: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon

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Goodreads | Amazon

A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

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I avoided reading this book for the better part of a year because I heard a lot of mixed things about it. So, I put it off and boy was I wrong to do so! I was so totally missing out! This book was AWESOME! Like I hugged my Kindle when finished reading it awesome. Yeah, I looked like a crazy person and was doing it at an airport but who cares? This book made me unbelievably happy. It had everything I love: slow burning romance, epic fight scenes, kickass women warriors, magic…SO MANY GREAT THINGS! It’s definitely a book that you NEED to read…like now, right NOW! 

To be honest, the description for Ruined doesn’t really distinguish it from other YA fantasy book. Nor does its lacklustre cover artwork which is kind of a mixture of Xena meets generic photo editing background. But don’t let that turn you away! This book was fast paced and its story beyond what the synopsis states.

The story takes places in a world where magical people called the Ruined are being hunted down and killed. They have been forced out of their kingdom and are now launching a resistance against their conquerers. Em, the rightful heir to the throne of Ruina (the kingdom of the Ruined) plans to destroy her enemies from within by assuming the identity of another and marrying the crown prince of Lera. My favourite part of this world was the fact that women and men are pretty much equal. Women are warriors and highly trained in the art of sword fighting. Em was totally about kicking butt but she also got to wear pretty dresses and go to balls. It’s like the best of both worlds! You could be feminine but also strong and deadly.

One of the best parts of the book was the romance. I’m such a sucker for the slower burning romances where the characters hate each other at the beginning, but slowly start develop feelings for one another. UGH! Em and Cas were just so darn adorable together. It makes my heart burst! She’s all full of vengeance and proving that she’s worth something and he’s all shy and wanting to do better. It’s like hot and cold, night and day. They are a perfect balance for each other. When stuff really starts to get real my heart just scattered. These two go through so much drama and it hurt. I’ve become so invested in them that I just NEED to read the sequel.

I really enjoyed the ending. Yes, there’s going to be another book and there was a slight cliffhanger, but when I finished I still felt completely satisfied. This series isn’t about shock and awe. I can’t wait for the sequel because the world, the characters…EVERYTHING was just so good. I want to say more but spoilers are totally bad and I don’t want to ruin anything. SO JUST READ IT!

So, if you are looking for an incredibly fun, entertaining and fast paced fantasy story, this is the book for you! I’m seriously kicking myself for waiting so long to pick it up. What was I thinking?!?!


about

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Amy Tintera is the NYT Bestselling author of the REBOOT duology and the RUINED trilogy, both of which feature lots of action and kissing. Her books are published by HarperCollins in the US and have been translated into 15+ languages around the world. Her next book, AVENGED (Ruined #2), will be published on May 2, 2017.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Review | Santa Muerte by Lucina Stone

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

28523618Santa Muerte by Lucina Stone

Release date: January 11th, 2016
Publisher: Story Merchant
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Format: eBook

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Goodreads | Amazon

THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a “boy of color.” Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as “Danny,” and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms.

And then she meets Daphne—an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne’s father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They’re running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough.

But her solar powered smart phone works. And there’s someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I’m Lain. Who the f— are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can’t be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya—the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man’s three-piece suit like no woman he’s ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don’t get Lain started….

Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela’s true identity….

Santa Muerte wasn’t what I expected it to be and that’s a good and bad thing. I loved some of the story but not all of it. Basically, it was a mixed bag of good and bad, positives and negatives. The story contained a lot of potential with its time travel aspects and intriguing and deeply flawed characters, but it just never really lived up to what it could have been. So, did I like reading it? Yeah, totally but it could have been better, it could have been more.

The story is about Daniela Delgado, a half-Mexican, half-Italian young woman who attempts suicide but wakes up to find herself transported back in time to 1920s New Jersey. There she meets Daphne and helps her escape her abusive father but ends up having other problems when they attract the attention of a mysterious young man. Along the way, Daniela must overcome many obstacles and discover family secrets. Basically, there’s tons of drama and action and never a dull moment!

Things I Enjoyed:

  • It featured a diverse cast of characters! Also, it’s written by a Mexican-American author. I loved reading about Mexican characters and Mexico itself. I’m married to a Mexican and spend a significant amount of time in the country. Mexico has so much to offer, especially with its folklore. It’s rich, dynamic and mysterious. I loved how Ms. Stone was able to blend her heritage and fantasy and the past all together.
  • Daniela has two moms and I loved how their family dynamic was portrayed as normal and in a positive light. Books need more of this. My gosh, the world needs more of this! Daniela’s moms,  Emma and Monica, are loving, caring and supportive of their daughter. They would stop at nothing to move mountains for her.
  • It’s a quick read! Coming in at around 200 and something pages I was able to finish reading it in an hour or two. Also, it was non-stop action. It held my attention and kept me turning the pages, wanting to know more and more.
  • It really highlighted the the horrible treatment people of colour faced (and still face) due to racism. Daniela was treated appallingly and I think it’s important that people see this. I love the aesthetic of the 1920s, but totally need to be reminded that it wasn’t all flappers, jazz clubs and champagne. Racism was very much alive and real in the US. People of colour were not only discriminated against but feared for their lives. It’s important that we are reminded of this and that it’s written about in books.

Things That Could Be Improved:

  • The book was simply too short for the world and story that Ms. Stone was trying to tell. The story featured too many important details to develop properly. A few extra paragraph here and there would have helped alleviate the feeling of the story being rushed along. The story and its characters deserved better.
  • After finishing the story I was left with tons and tons of questions. Sure, they will probably be answered in the sequel, since this appears to be a series, but I needed a lot more closure or answers to simple things. I did have to go back and refer to past events to make some connections. Again, more pages would have allowed the author to avoid this problem and tie up some loose ends.
  • The point of view changed way too many times for my liking. It’s a short book, just keep it simple please. The series is referred to as “The Daniela Story” and I would have been completely happy if it was just told from Daniela’s POV.  By the end, I didn’t feel like I really knew Daniela. I liked her just fine, but my connection with the character was thin at best. I hope that this is different in future instalments.

I think Santa Muerte is a book that you really need to read for yourself. It features so many elements that can appeal to a wide audience. I just wish that it was longer so the characters and story could have developed further. That said, I am really looking forward to the sequel!

Blog Tour: The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey (Guest Post)

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29601936The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey
Release date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Format: eBook, paperback

Check out my review here.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Sixteen-year-old Farris is picking up the pieces after the untimely death of her best friend. But even one year later, she can’t seem to find “normal” again—not until Lane Evans pops back into her life and pushes her to face reality.

When he offers her the chance to find the truth, Farris fears what will surface. Is it too much too soon or just what she needs to move forward?


One Good Reason to Read a Depressing Book

What did I do on my summer vacation? I traveled, did some reading, wrote a chapter or two—and I watched a lot of Netflix. In fact, I just finished watching another seven-season series. At 12 episodes per season, that’s roughly 2,500 minutes or 42 hours of my life I will never get back. But I so looked forward to clicking that little play button and seeing what was next for this character or that one. And I loved being able to say, “Just one more show” even at 1 am. I was hooked. But after the series finale, I was left with this giant hole in my gut. The characters I had come to love and despise were no more. With the closing credits of the final episode, I panicked. I needed a quick fix—a new show to fill the void. Come on, you guys know what I mean.

So I went on the hunt for something new—a comedy or something with a little grit—and stumbled across ABC’s Chasing Life. I have to admit that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I decided to give it a shot for one reason—I loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t read it or watched the movie, it’s about two teens who fall in love. But here’s the catch: both of them have cancer. Sigh. Chasing Life is about a twenty-something who gets her dream job, an amazing new boyfriend, and the-not-so-great news that she has leukemia. Double sigh. So why do we read these books or watch movies about terminally ill cancer patients? Why do we get pulled in to these narratives? Can anyone give me one good reason to watch a show about young people living with and dying of cancer?

Kaitlin Thomas from TV.com gives five reasons to watch Chasing Life including, “It’s realistic, not melodramatic fiction.” Okay, I’ll bite. Maybe audiences watch/read because “it” (aka cancer) happens in real life. Maybe people are relating. So many of us have been touched by the “C” word in one way or another. I know I have. The National Cancer Institute estimates that “approximately 8 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer” and about 1,228,600 people will be diagnosed this year alone. These statistics show a startling reality—a reality that is fueling many of the fictional narratives we’re watching and reading today, e.g. Red Band Society, Chasing Life, Fault, etc. So, what do you think about this trend? A trend, as Thomas writes, that involves “exactly zero vampires, werewolves, witches, or superheroes.” However, with no vampires and lots of talk about cancer, Thomas also states, “It’s hard to sell people on shows [books] that sound super depressing.”


Giveaway

Click here to enter the international giveaway to win:

  • 2x $5 Amazon gift cards
  • 2x signed copies of The Broken One

Mini Reviews | Bad Blood & The Witch Who Came In From The Cold

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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.

30334509The Witch Who Came in From the Cold: Season One Volume One by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Ian Tregillis, Cassandra Rose Clarke and Michael Swanwick 
Release date: May 25th, 2016
Publisher: Serial Box
Genre: Fantasy, historical fiction
Format: eBook

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Goodreads | Amazon

Through a haze of cigarettes and vodka there lies a version of Prague in the heart of the Cold War where spies practice sorcery in their games of intrigue. While the political lines may be as clear as the Iron Curtain, the battles of magic seldom stay clean, and the combating forces of Ice and Flame dance across borders and loyalties. Tanya Morozova is a KGB officer and the latest in a long of Ice sorceresses; Gabe Pritchard is a CIA officer and reluctant Ice recruit. Enemies at one turn, but forced into alliances at the next, their relationship is as explosive as the Cold War itself.

I find the whole serial concept very interesting. I actually purchased the first instalment of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold a while back and then for some reason I can’t remember never picked up the second in the series. That was definitely my loss because these stories are excellent!

The stories take place in the real world but feature major magical elements. They take place in 1970s Cold War era Prague and are about about a few KGB, CIA and MI6 intelligence agents. These agents may be representing a particular nation, but they are actually fighting a secretive war between two magical factions, the Ice and the Fire. These two groups are fighting each other to gain control of Hosts, regular people who suddenly become aware of the magical world and possess special items or abilities.

The premise is so different. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before! Cold War and magic?! YES! It works so well and the fact that the characters are technically fighting two wars makes it even more intriguing because which side are they actually on? There are a lot of tough situations that the characters have to face.

I loved how each story was written by a different author but all still managed to tell a well planned out and cohesive story. I also appreciated how each instalment was fulfilling and complete. I’ve read serial type stories in the past where I was given only one tiny chapter. These stories offer a complete story but leave you hanging on wanting more and more.

By the end of the 7th story I was hooked. At the start the characters were quite vague but now I care so much for them. It’s amazing and a credit to the story telling just how much the characters changed and developed as I read. I can’t wait to start the next bunch of stories because I need to know what’s going to happen!


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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Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta
Release date: March 14th, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, historical fiction
Format: eBook

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Goodreads | Amazon

A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.

Oooh this book! I honestly devoured it in one night, a feat so staggering I still can’t believe it. One night makes it sound even longer than it took. It was actually just a few hours. I needed a book to take my mind off of a few things that were bothering me and I couldn’t have made a better choice. From the opening chapter I was completely hooked!

The story follows the main character Heather on her annual trip to Edinburgh to visit her aunt and grandmother. However, things aren’t as they used to be. Heather has just checked out of medical centre for self harm. She’s been plagued by reoccurring nightmares and has had a difficult time coping with them. She keeps on reliving the witch trials that took place in Edinburgh in the 1600s. I don’t want to give away anything but…while in Scotland Heather learns a lot about her family history and is forced to confront those haunting her in her dreams.

What I really loved about the book were the historical flashbacks to 1600s Scotland. They were written in a way that kept me wanting more and more. These flashbacks were short and sweet but left me with a ton of questions each time one appeared. There was so much suspense and tension! That’s part of what made this novel so enjoyable to read. The author kept the reader on their toes. Scotland itself is a huge character in the story and it made me long to go back. I lived in Edinburgh for a year and I miss it a lot. Every description of a street, monument or area just made my heart leap. *sigh* Oh Scotland, I love you so much!

I did become a bit frustrated at the end. The panic inducing pace of the novel slowed down a lot. It started to drag and that slightly took away from the tense feeling that I felt throughout. That said, Bad Blood is still a book that I highly recommend. This is a standalone that you don’t want to miss out on!

Review | Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis

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.

32497529Desert Jewel by Natalina Reis
Release date: October 29th, 2016
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley

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Goodreads | Amazon

Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s

heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.

Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.

Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for?

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Desert Jewel was an interesting story about love, survival and inner strength. Another impulse request on NetGalley, I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good as its fabulous cover artwork. However, I found myself staying up late at night just to finish it. I was captivated throughout and couldn’t help but keep turning the pages to see what would happen next.

Much of what made the story so addictive were the characters Milenda and Jaali. They were very well written, with great depth, that you couldn’t help but root for them. When the story first started I was worried that Milenda was going to be the stereotypical entitled princess (think The Heir/The Crown) but thankful she wasn’t. There’s no stomping around or tempertantrums. Instead, Milenda is driven by bettering herself and those around her. Jaali’s story broke my heart into a million pieces. The slow reveal of how he was treated as a slave, beaten and raped, was well written with great care and tenderness. I loved how together, he and Milenda could overcome anything they set their minds too. Their romance was beautiful but at times, if I’m completely honest, a little too sickly sweet. I adored them, don’t get me wrong, it just sometimes seemed a little too much. They needed each other too much by the end and that bothered me. I’m a firm believer that you can benefit by being with your partner, but don’t have to lose too much of your own independence in the process.

The world created in this story was fascinating. It takes place in an African nation where magical abilities exist. One magical being that I absolutely adored was Mjusi, a flying lizard-like creature. He was perfect comic relief! Always there to help out and raise a smile when needed. Where the story lacked was in the explanation of the gods and goddesses. They are mentioned in the novel but not much background was provided. I had so many questions about their abilities and why hadn’t they done anything to direct change within the kingdom?

I honestly can’t believe how quickly I read through this book! I finished it within a day. It’s about 200ish pages but felt like much less. The chapters are short and the writing quite simple and to the point. After previously being burdened by an overly descriptive book, this one felt like an easy, breezy read. It was just what I needed!

While written as a stand alone, the ending left enough open for a sequel, which I would happily read in a heartbeat. I really hope that we get more from the characters and world established in Desert Jewel. There are so many possible storylines that I’m totally going to be stalking the author’s Goodreads page hoping that the sequel will be her next release!


about
61bxxqziksl-_ux250_Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.

After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.

When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Mini Reviews | Binti, Home & Assassin’s Creed: Heresy

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This is my second attempt at posting these reviews. The first time the schedule post appeared blank. I nearly died! Three reviews gone?! WHYYYYY?!?! But luckily for me I had posted copies of the reviews on Amazon, NetGalley or Goodreads. Life lesson: always, always save, back things up and double check scheduled posts. 😦


25667918Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Release date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Science fiction, novella
Format: eBook

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Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Binti was short and pretty straightforward plot wise, but Nnedi Okorafor’s writing was another thing altogether. I can best describe it as complex and imaginative. For being less than 100 pages long, Binti featured fantastic world building, character development and lots of conflict that hooked my interest from the very first paragraph.

The story is about Binti, a courageous and extremely intelligent young woman. She’s a member of the Himba, a group of people who excel in mathematics and science, but are marginalized and discriminated against because of their skin colour and cultural beliefs. After being accepted to study at the prestigious Oomza Uni, Binti becomes the first of her people to leave Earth to study with individuals from around the galaxy. While on her way to the university, her spaceship is attacked by the Meduse, a jellyfish-like race who murder everyone aboard the ship except for Binti.

What I loved about the story was its message of using communication as a way to reach an understanding and to prevent violence and war. Initially, Binti was unable to communicate with the Meduse. This caused fear, tension and hatred. However, once she discovered that she could use an accent item called an edan to speak with the Meduse things began to change. Communication was the key to the story and I think it’s a wonderful message. People fear what they do not know or understand. This can lead to ignorance that fuels hate and violence. Binti’s way of handling a difficult situation sent a very powerful message.

I just wish that the story was longer. The ending left me wanting more but I was lucky enough to be able to move directly onto the sequel, Home. Sometimes there are benefits to discovering something a tiny bit later than everyone else.


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.

30038654Home by Nnedi Okorafor
Release date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Science fiction, novella
Format: eBook

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It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

Home was a fantastic followup to a creative and interesting novella. The short story picks up where its predecessor left off. Binti has now been studying mathematics at Oomza Uni for close to a year. However, Binti and Okwu (her Meduse friend) have been having difficulties adapting to their new environment. Okwu is constantly one step away from unleashing untold violence on its weapons instructor and Binti is struggling to come to terms with what she experienced when her spaceship was attacked by the Meduse. She cycles between moments of panic and pure rage. In an effort to cleanse herself of these impure feelings, Binti returns home to face her family and embark on a sacred Himba pilgrimage.

While the theme of the first novella was communication, change and acceptance were the main ideas of Home. Binti struggles to unite who she was with the person she is now. Her journey to Oomza Uni, the mass murder on the spaceship and her interactions with the Meduse have altered how she views herself and the world. She’s seen and done things that none of her people have ever experienced. While her family welcome her back, she’s still an outsider, they aren’t sure if they can really trust her. They don’t understand why she left. This and her struggle with PTSD made my heart ache for Binti. I honestly don’t know how she could be friends with Okwu after what it and the Meduse did. But this is one of the many reasons why I adore Binti, she’s resourceful and strong. She doesn’t let the past destroy her future.

One of the things I found very interesting was how Binti was forced to confront her own prejudices. When taken away to be taught about her edan by the desert people, Binti treats them the way her people are treated, with destain and disgust. They are different from her, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less, they just believe and do things in a different way. One group of people are not more or less than any other, a message needed now more than ever.

I considered rating this book higher, but the cliffhanger ending rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t the complete story I was expecting. If anything it felt like once the story started going it was cut off. Yes, it’s done the job of getting me really excited for the followup, but I would have been anyway. Besides the ending, all I can say is that Nnedi Okorafor’s writing is phenomenal, creative and emotional…I cannot recommend it enough. You really need to go read these two books yourself!


30834944Assassin’s Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden
Release date: November 15th, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft Publishing
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Format: eBook

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An endless conflict.  An old wrong.  A new revelation.   

Simon Hathaway, member of the Templar Inner Sanctum, brings a cool head and detached manner to his new role as Head of Abstergo Industry’s Historical Research Division.

But Simon also has an insatiable curiosity, and is fascinated by the thought of experiencing history first-hand through his ancestor–Gabriel Laxart, who fought alongside the legendary Joan of Arc.

When he enters the newly-designed Animus for its initial project, Simon finds himself unprepared for what he discovers: How deep the conflict between the Templars and the Assassins goes. What Gabriel will do for the woman he both loves and reveres.

And the most dangerous truth of all: Who is the heretic…and who is the true believer.

This is the first book I’ve read from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I love the video games but went into the book with low expectations. In my experience, video game spinoffs such as books and movies are usually a let down. They just can’t capture what made the game so much fun. But I was so, so wrong! I found myself completely enthralled by its mixture of the present, history events and political intrigue.

If you are unfamiliar with the video games, they are about two secret orders, the Templars and the Assassins, who are searching for ancient items that hold the key to human behaviour and free will. Even though the two orders are looking for the same items, they want to use them for different things. The Templars want to control human behaviour in order to create peace, while the Assassins believe in free will. This has led to centuries of conflict. In order to learn more about the ancient artefacts, the orders use an advanced piece of technology called the Animus to venture into the past using their genetic memories.

What I loved about the book was how it totally immersed you in the story. I felt like I was right there with the characters, especially in the Animus scenes that featured Joan of Arc. It was just like the video game! Joan and her story has always fascinated me. I cannot tell you how many research projects I wrote in school about her, so I was very pleased that she was the historical focus of the novel. The pacing was quite quick and the author didn’t waste anytime getting into the story. I was never bored and had difficulty putting down the story. I just wanted to keep on reading well into the night. What really made this book stand out was that it was written from the Templar point of view. The video games usually feature a character who is an Assassin. It was interesting to see how the “enemy” views things and totally gave me a new perspective on the Templar order.

I’m so happy that I gave it a chance. It was full of surprises. I’m now going to dive into the other Assassin’s Creed books that I’ve had sitting on my Kindle for ages. 🙂