Non-Spoiler Review of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Soure: ARC from Raincoast
Link to the authorhttp://www.rinchupeco.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

Rating: 2 Stars

Buzz Words: Witches, Necromancy, Elemental Magic, Beasts, War

 

Thoughts:

I don’t know what happened.

Above, I included buzz words from the synopsis that caught my interest. Based on those I couldn’t imagine not loving this book. Unfortunately, the unimaginable happened.

The beginning had real promise, the action was on right from the start and the atmosphere was palpable. Tea, the main character, accidentally raises her brother from the dead and a bone witch appears, almost instantly, to take her away and train her. I was so excited for the adventure and necromancy and beasts, that I couldn’t wait for their journey to start!!!

Instead, Tea in indentured to a house where she does chores and learns to dance and entertain. At this point I was getting some serious Memoirs of a Geisha feels. Indentured to a house sort of against her will? Check. Expected to serve all those above her station and do a bunch of chores? Check. Gets in trouble when she stumbles into the other asha’s petty games? Check. Elaborate dresses that are uniquely designed for each girl? Check! I loved Memoirs of a Geisha but I found the similarities off-putting because I wanted beasts and necromancy, not dresses and dancing.

And speaking of those elaborate dresses, the descriptions in this book were… comprehensive, that’s the kindest way I could put it. It was too much, and not just when it came to the dresses but everything! I love a well-built world but there was too much flourish and not enough substance. Where did the plot go? Where did the action go? I don’t care about the color of the stitching on a dress just raise something from the dead already!

I also never connected with the characters, everyone was likable but that was all. The dual timeline didn’t help. I’m not a fan of them to begin with, and this one left me feeling jarred and disconnected everytime it switched.

Overall, I can’t say I enjoyed this book. It had some great potential and the writing was beautiful even if it was over the top, but for me, it fell very short of the mark. I think if the book had been marketed differently – if I hadn’t been expecting dark magic and beasts rising from the dead, I wouldn’t have felt so let down.

A big thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of The Bone Witch for this review!

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

Publisher: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genre: Contemporary
Source: ARC from Raincoast
Link to the author: on Twitter

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

RATING: 3.5
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BUZZ WORDS: Art, Best Friends, New York City, Dreams

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home”

THOUGHTS:

This reminded me of The Carrie Diaries TV show if it was about fashion instead of art. Did anyone else watch that show? Something about the characters makes me think if you liked it, you’d enjoy this book.

Piper is a high school student who knows what she wants when she graduates, New York, and she has big plans for the future. Those plans involve her best friend Kit and her boyfriend Enzo, but those plans are quickly unraveled despite Pipers attempts to hold them together.

There were some typical high school clichés but for the most part it avoided them. For instance, romance isn’t the focus, the main character isn’t bullied at school despite her quirky nature and isn’t trying to figure out who she is or what she wants. In fact I thought it was a rarely found, authentic depiction of the high school experience. I liked that Piper was full of passion, making her strong if also emotional. There was drama, but it wasn’t the typical highschool stuff. The story focuses mainly on the relationships between Piper, her friends, and her family. I think Kit and Silas were my favurite characters, probably because they both loved Piper so much and tempered her emotional side. I wanted Piper to stop going on with Enzo and wise up about CJ, but that’s because I’m an adult now and I know better. It’s to be expected that a main character of that age is going to make poor choices, so I don’t feel I can hold that against the author. The one relationship that did annoy me was between Piper and her sister Marli. The mean older sister routine was so over the top. There’s no way parents would allow that kind of behavior, even the biggest push overs. At times it seemed like the author used the drama between Piper & Kit and Piper & Marli to teach her that she blows things out of proportion. But honestly, I don’t think Piper was ever out of line when it came to her sister, she was every bit as bad as Piper described her. I also didn’t feel the reconciliation between them was adequate. I’m really not sure what the theme or lesson was in this story but regardless I ended up really enjoying it. Mostly because of Pipers strong voice and the focus of the story didn’t follow the usual tropes.

It started out poor but became great. I even wish there had been less of the beginning and more about her life in New York, or even a sequel because it ended when it was starting to get really good.

In the beginning, I was going to DNF this story but I decided to keep reading. I’m really glad I did because it grew on me like a pretty little weed. (Quickly and full of color!) I’ve always been artistic and creative so I found it easy to relate to the main characters. Pipers obsession with Andy Warhol didn’t add to the story in my opinion. (It was never explained why he, in particular, was such an inspiration to her.) It is a diary entry writing style, which I don’t often enjoy but in this case, I think it really worked. The entries were fun, fast and Piper’s voice comes through loud and clear. Any artist is going to love and relate to this character and her story.

A big thank you to Raincoast for sending me a copy of Piper Perish for this review!

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 14th 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Soure: ARC from Harper Collins
Link to the author: http://www.lesleylivingston.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

 

RATING: 4.5 30320008

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“Wind carry my words. Shadows and darkness see my plight. Let the Morrigan hear my plea. Give me the strength to vanquish my enemies and wreak my vengeance.”

 

THOUGHTS:

Can I just say, 2017 releases are killing it! Seriously, I have read some incredible books this year and The Valiant is definitely one of them.

The story is about a girl named Fallon who is the daughter of a Cantii king. She has long awaited the day when she would become an honored member of his war band just like the older sister she idolizes. In a sick twist of fate, her life is changed forever and she finds herself fighting instead, in the gladiator arena of Rome, her family’s sworn enemy.

The story starts off strong and in the first few chapters, Fallon’s life is altered in unexcepted ways one after another. The story gives you a chance to catch your breath and introduces some new characters but it doesn’t pause for long. This story was honed like a perfectly balanced blade. There was enough dialogue between the characters to connect with them, but also enough action to propel the story onward. I never felt like I needed more than I was given or that something was dragged out.  It was embellished in all the right places that brought the story to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Rome through Fallons eyes. Rome and Gladiators are not something I’ve read about in YA before, and it was so nice to read something new. Livingston is truly a strong and talented writer. Another thing about the writing, there were so many times I found myself shouting “I knew it!” And yet I don’t consider that this story was predictable because I only ever turned out to be partly correct. I always appreciate an author that can keep me on my toes like that.

The characters were also written really well. Fallon is tough and smart and realistically flawed. I felt that she grew a lot during the story as her values and beliefs were challenged. She really held fast to the essence of who she was as an individual while considering what her new position in life could allow her to become. My heart broke for her in the first few chapters, I loved Mael, and I wasn’t sure I wanted there to be a second romance. I ended up really liking the other love interest! And I appreciate the respect he shows Fallon, he knows that she is not a woman to be kept. Even the side characters were great, they were complex and their roles were essential to the story progression and the main characters growth. Nyx was the perfect villian, the kind you despise and then in certain moments feel for. Elka was an excellent sort of sidekick character, full of so much sass and loyalty, I wish she were my best friend. And the relationship between Fallon and the Lady Achillea was pleasantly unexpected. I felt that she kept Fallon from becoming bitter about her new lot in life and instead helped her see the possibilities in it.

Overall I really liked that the romance was not the main focus. Instead, it was more Fallon learning about herself, what she wanted to stand for and the person she wanted to become. I loved that she found a new family and a sisterhood. That bond was a strong focus in The Valiant and I don’t think you see that often enough in YA. The suggestion that family and belonging can be found again after losing it really resonated with me at this time in my life.

I gave The Valiant 4.5 out of 5 stars and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, The Defiant! I y ou enjoy strong female leads, stories about finding your tribe, or a great historical fiction, then I highly recommend this book!

A big thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of The Valiant for this review!

 

 

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

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The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Soure: ARC from Keymaster Press
Link to the author: http://elisekova.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

RATING: ☆☆☆☆☆
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BUZZ WORDS: dragon king, machinery, unscrupulous morals, magic, wish

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

|Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated with you and doing it tunil you died or it killed you – which ever came first”

THOUGHTS:

Im going to try to give you my take on the summary but I know I’m not going to do it justice.

Essentially, there are two lands, Nova and Loom. The people of Nova are called dragons, they are brightly colored from their skin to their clothes and they have magic. The magic residies in different parts of their bodies depending on their ability. Once, a long time ago, a dragon fell from the sky and the people of Loom, below Nova, harvested his organs and his magic and combined it with their technology to create something new. They also transplanted the organs into people of Loom to create Chimera, a blend of human and dragon that can use magic enhanced technology. Over time a lot of animosity grew between the people of Loom and the dragons of Nova. Arianna, is our MC and she is one of the chimera. One day history repeats itself and a dragon falls from the sky and Arianna agrees to help him in return for a boon. The dragon, Cvareh, needs to get to the Alchemists Guild and the story follows them as they make their way across Loom, avoiding the dragon kings riders who want to kill them, that is if Arianna and Cvareh don’t kill one another first.

Ok that was akward, but in all seriousnes,  THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!! I’m going to break down this review into parts and use a lot of quotes because they capture my feels better than I am capable of.

The Characters And Their Relationships:

Arianna, the MC, was such an onion. There were just layers upon layers to her that were slowly exposed and I know there are more to come. I loved each glimpse Kova gave us into this characters strengths and weaknesses. Early on there are some clues from the author that Arianna isn’t quite what she seems and that there are some or many, secrets she is keeping. Strong, stubborn, smart, and resourceful, she is the first MC I’ve felt I really related to in a long time.

Cvareh (Suh-var-ay), I can never say his name right and must have checked the glossary (thank you for that) at least ten times. A fascinating dragon, with blue skin and a passion for fashion. I love this line from Arianna after meeting Cvareh

“He was finally the monster she had been expecting”

In reality, I found him to be anything but what I expected from a dragon. Smart, sensible and sweet, Cvareh really grew on me, like a little blue fungus. While some of Ariannas secrets are eventually revealed, the details of Cvareh’s past are not and I look forward to getting to know him better in book two.

There is a ship in this book and I ship it, so so much. I like when the relationship starts out a little rocky but they are thrown into situations where they have to rely on one another and begin to see more depth to one another than their initial impression. I love the way Kova built up this slow burn between the two but it was never the main focus of the story, it just happened naturally along the way.

“The powder kegs around them stacked taller, but for now remained dry and cool”

A lot of the banter between these two had me smiling and laughing, they were both sassy and strong-willed and I loved every second of it!

I also liked the relationship between Florence and Arianna, although it wasn’t the friendship I was expecting. It was more of a parent-child or I guess in this case teacher-student relationship, regardless I enjoyed it.

“It wasn’t every day you had the opportunity to meet a gear that fit so well against your own”

I just loved this comparison. I think Florence was definitely an essential part of the story because she kept Arianna a little grounded and also acted as the peacekeeper between Arianna and Cvareh. I think without Florene that those two would have gone their separate ways or killed one another. As the ‘glue’ of the group she also had the trait of seeing things around her that others could not such as the romantic tension.

The Plot, The World Building And All The Rest

The Alchemists of Loom is fresh and unlike anything I’ve read or even heard of before. Kova infused this book with steampunk and I wasn’t sure about that, because I haven’t read anything like that before, but it was amazing! I’m a welder by trade so it was neat to read about a female MC that was so handy and creative.

When I read the last line and closed the book I just sat back with it in my arms and marveled. I didn’t even know how much I had needed to read a book like this. Don’t get me wrong I have read some great fantasy lately but this – this is now one of my all time favorites with Alanna, Six of Crows and Mistborn. It had that perfect balance of adventure, romance, action, tension, mystery and of course, sass. Everything just fit together perfectly and the result was incredible and memorable, I finished it recently and already I can’t wait to re-read it.

Elise Kova must write with a wand rather than a pen. Her choice of words and placement of details made the world come alive without that dreaded info dump. The description and the attention to detail created such vivid imagery, it was gorgeous.

“the buildings crumbling together to form a skyline of stone sentries no longer needed at their posts.”

“The dragon collapsed against the wall as every clock crashed back into motion around them”

Although at the start I admit I wasn’t instantly hooked, I want to tell you guys something I discovered last year. Lately I’ve noticed that all the really good fantasy books I’ve read started as a little tough to get into. This doesn’t always apply, but now when I find it tough to get into a new world I get a little excited because I know the potential is there! I think the reason this happens is because the world is so different from our own, it takes me time to acclimatize but if the author knows her world well, and you can tell Kova does, then once you are in you never want to leave. That was definitely the case here; I felt like I was a part of Loom while I was reading and I was sad to leave it behind when I finished the final page. Can someone just show me the way to the Rivets Guild, please? Creating a world that has so much depth it feels tangible is one of the things I admire most about fantasy writers. Not all of them accomplish that, I think most of them don’t, but Elise Kova is definitely one of the ones that does, and it’s why The Alchemists of Loom stood out as one of my best books of 2016 and best fantsays I’ve ever read.

I found throughout the story that the pacing was accurate, there were times when the characters were laying low and planning so things slowed down a little. Every other moment was action-packed and I flew through this book. The characters are on the run pretty much the whole time and I really loved the on-the-edge of my seat feeling, never quite sure what was going to happen next. The White Wraith was constantly coming up with split second plans to get them out of their latest bind. Obviously, from what I’ve described you can guess that I didn’t feel this book wasn’t predictable at all which some of you might know is one of my biggest dislikes. The author hinted at things, and I made my own guesses but I wasn’t even close!

The magic system was fantastic, different magics residing in different parts of the body is a really fascinating idea and I almost wish we had more details about the different magics dragons possess. Perhaps this will be fulfilled in the second book. I love the way the people of Loom combined magic and technology to create something entirely new. Kova struck gold when she brought fantasy and steam punk together. (And once you’ve read the book you’ll realize I sort of made a pun there) The characters could also imbibe from one another, drawing strength and power from the others blood. This was kind of creepy and kind of sexy at the same time, at least between the ship in this book. Like I said, I really hope we get to explore more of the working between magic, dragons, chimera and machinery in book two because I found it fascinating.

And I loved that last line!! Can someone please get me Dragons of Nova ASAP!

** If you have reached the end of this review, thank you for reading! I know you might be wondering where my dislikes are? Well I don’t really have any, that’s how much I loved this book. I think if I had to point out anything it would be that the beginning was a little tough for me to sink into but this isn’t a book that you have to get half way through to be pulled in. Just give it a couple of chapters, trust me, you’re welcome. And Cvareh’s name was hard to pronounce, but really those are nothing when compared to all the great things about this book so I didn’t deduct any stars for those points.

A big thank you to Keymaster Press for sending me a copy of The Alchemists of Loom for this review!

Review: Flicker and Mist by Mary G Thompson

Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson

Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: January 3rd 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Soure: ARC from Raincoast
Link to the author: http://marygthompson.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

Pages: 377          Rating: 2 Stars28114413

Summary:

This is a story about a girl named Myra, she is the daughter of a Plat and a Leftie, the only mixed blood girl in her town. There are physical differences between Plats and Lefties but what really sets them apart is the Lefties relations to Flickerkin, people who can make themselves invisible. The Flickerkin left quite some time ago after confrontation with the Plats but the Lefties are still considered lower class and viewed with suspicion (in case they inherited the ability to Flicker). Myra has had a typical life regardless of her heritage because her father is on city council and they are seen as standup Plat citizens. All Myra ever has to worry about is the annual Games, in which she competes in a race with her Wetbeast Hoof. That is until mysterious things start to happen and someone with the ability to Flicker is suspected. Everyone is worried that the Flickermen have returned and there will be violence once again.

I had a love-hate relationship with Myra. I really liked her character but she very often did things that seemed out of character? She would talk about how much she shouldn’t do something and then come to the conclusion that it was exactly what she needed to do? As a result, there were a lot of events in the story that felt unnecessary because one of Myra’s acts would directly undo her previous one. It felt forced at times, just to move the story in the direction it needed to go without any natural flow. As Myra discovers how deep her Leftie blood runs some secrets are revealed and Myra’s reactions didn’t feel realistic. She was too accepting of all these new revelations, dangers, and abilities, as well as being a five second natural when it came to learning new skills. One thing I did really enjoy were the friendships between Myra, Orphos, Castor and Porti. Often when the main characters secrets are revealed her friends turn away from her, adding to the protagonist struggle, however in this story they very strongly supported her. I liked that a lot, it was unexpected and was defiantely one of the best parts of the story. I really found the constant, constant reminder of the physical differences between Plats and Lefties to be annoying. I only need to be reminded so many times in 377 pages of how short and round the Lefties were and how dark the Plats hair was. There is some romance in Flicker and Mist and almost a love triangle? I couldn’t stand Nolan because he was SO pushy and constantly telling Myra what to do, even physically forcing her to Flicker. Castor was great but I wasn’t swooning at any point, there was no build up or slow burn, or any kind of burn to his and Myra’s relationship it was just easy and sweet.

The World building. I hope someone else reads this books and creates some fan art of the Wetbeast because I have no idea what this thing is or looks like. It runs on land and swims underwater with a rider, it also moos and screeches? I really like fantasy creatures but the whole time I was picturing a cow and it made all the actions scenes very comical in my head and I don’t think that was the authors intention. There is constant reference to the height of the water around this island where they all live and I still don’t know what the point of that was? The original Flickermen came over the ocean on boats and left the same way and with them the ocean receded. The people on the island see the water as their god and submit criminals to its depths to be judged and no one travels on the water out of respect for the god. The rising waters are part of why the people begin to panic but nothing actually happens on the water, at least in this book. All of the trouble is caused by some Lefties who are tired of being oppressed by the Plats so I’m just wondering why the reader was constantly told how high the water was rising? Again this could be explained in the following book but it all felt a little scattered and didn’t give me enough information to become invested in the mystery.

The writing definitely set a mood well, there was a sense of fear and urgency. There was also an air of mystery- why are the waters rising? what really happened between the Flickerkin and Plats all those years ago? – but it was really deflating that none of that was explained. I felt like the author was nudging the reader that these were important to the story but in they end they were irrelevant. I had no idea where the story was going, and not in the good way, with surprising twists and reveals.

Overall I felt the Flicker ability or magic was interesting and I haven’t read a story with anything like it before. If the main character had taken it on willingly and taken time to learn it, I think I would have enjoyed it more. The first time she Flickers in the story it is forced upon her by Nolan, rather than feel violated or furious she ends up letting him teach her to Flicker which involves the two getting very close and cozy. I can’t believe someone would so easily trust a guy they barely know who just violated their personal freedoms? But she does and then after a day or so of practice she’s able to Flicker her Wetbeast as well, a rare ability, followed the same day by Misting. From what I understood Misting is when a Flickerkin goes from invisible to atomized and weightless, sort of like a cloud or a fog? Myra learns this almost instantly despite it being described as an advanced ability. A Flickerkin can also make one appendage solid and visible in cloud form, in one scene Myra Mists out over the water and lifts Castor to safety and I just couldn’t see it or buy it.

I feel like there were so many elements in this story I liked and had potential but they all just went in a direction I didn’t enjoy. I might pick up the second book when it releases just to see if any of my questions are answered but I can’t honestly say that I would recommend this because it left me so frustrated and unsatisfied.

 

A big thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of Flicker and Mist for this review!