magic

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – ebook, Published September 10th 2019 by Orbit

At a time like this, I think we all need to be whisked away into another world. This book is perfect for that!

January Scaller is “a perfectly unique specimen”. In other words, she’s not white, but she’s not entirely coloured, either. Her father is a dark-skinned man from somewhere far away – January doesn’t know where – and her mother is no longer around. While her father travels the world for work, rarely returning home to her, January lives with the man who hired her father and practically saved their lives. His name is Mr Locke. He is wealthy, white, and the nearest thing January has to family most of the time.

One day January finds a book titled The Ten Thousand Doors. As she reads, she discovers the amazing truths about the world around her – and the thousands of others – as well as herself.

But January isn’t the only one who knows about the Doors to other worlds. It turns out the people closest to her already knew – and some of them aren’t happy about her finding out.

So January spends time in a mental asylum, is attacked by a man-slash-vampire, almost loses her beloved dog, and ends up travelling to places she could have only dreamt of.

This was a truly magical book. It had a sort of Inkheart-like vibe to me in some ways, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were twists and turns, beautiful imagery and emotional moments and development.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

As this was a sort of historical fiction novel, there was a lot of emphasis on race inequality. Sadly, this feels all too relevant right now. The difference between how January is treated when she’s with Mr Locke – wealthy, upstanding, and most importantly, white – compared to when she’s alone is shocking. But of course, it’s real. And it’s still happening to some extent today.

Anyway, I really liked this book. It took a little while for me to get into it, though, so I’m giving it 4 stars. Definitely worth a read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Mermaid Adrift

Mermaid Adrift by Jennifer Laslie – Published April 2018

I actually received an ARC of this book via the author’s newsletter almost two years ago, but I have so many books to read (and so little time) that I only got round to reading it now. Oops!

I have always been a huge fan of mermaids. One of my all-time favourite series, even to this day, is the Ingo series by Helend Dunmore. Not quite your stereotypical mermaids, but I adore it nonetheless.

As the title suggests, this is a story about a mermaid. It begins five years in the past when Meryia, our purple-scaled protagonist, encounters a ship caught in a storm. Humans are dangerous, but for some reason, Meriya is compelled to save the boy – she knows she is physically unable to carry the older man – and return him to shore. He seems to be unconscious so she is safe from discovery, but she bears a small tear to her tale. Likewise, the boy has a wound on his forehead as a memento of the day’s events.At the ‘current’ time, Meriya is betrothed to a boy who has teased and taunted her for years at school, she can’t seem to do magic – and every mermaid can do magic – and occasionally, she still wonders about that boy she rescued all those years ago.

When Meriya decides to study the underwater volcanoes near the kingdom for her school assessment, she finds herself witnessing a full-on eruption. After hitting her head and being badly burned, she wakes in a strange enclosure which she soon discovers to be a garden pool.

Rowan has been obsessed with proving mermaids exist ever since he was rescued by one the night he lost his father. So when he finds Meriya washed up on the shore, he can’t believe his eyes. As someone who works with marine animal rehabilitation and care, he takes it upon himself to keep her safe and attempt to help her heal. He decides to keep her in his saltwater pool and tend to her wounds while she’s still unconscious.

Without going too far into detail, Meriya treats her captor with a mix of fear, hostility and contempt for quite some time. She has heard too many stories about humans to be able to trust him that easily. Rowan does his best to show her that humans aren’t that bad, and even protects her from his rather nosey best friend, Nick.

A lot happens. Nick becomes more of a threat than Rowan anticipated, and Meriya hears news telepathically from Cayson that the eruption has wiped out almost the whole kingdom. There’s a lot more, too, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find it all out.

I did find this a little bit cliché and stereotypical at times. But then again, cliché isn’t always a bad thing! Sometimes it’s nice to have something a little more light-hearted, cute and magical and reminiscent of childhood fairy tales. Plus, Laslie included a rather unique element that I liked: the concept of the Ocean being Her own character. I’d be interested in learning more about Her!

So overall, I definitely did enjoy this. It has possibly rekindled my love for mermaids (not that it ever truly died) and I may have to go and re-read the Ingo series again sometime soon. (Because I definitely don’t have enough new books to read.) 3.5 to 4 stars for this book.

Book Review: The Winter Sacrifice

The Winter Sacrifice by Marisa Claire – Rise of the Dark Fae #1

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
I will not discuss the plot too much in my review, to avoid spoilers for any potential readers. (Plus, the blurb does a pretty good job of this.)
My main points of note are that this was simultaneously unique and rather stereotypical/cliche. That makes no sense, I know, but that’s how I felt. It’s like it was trying a little too hard to be different, you know? I can’t say I read very many books like this so I’m no expert in the genre, but still. That’s just how it came across to me.
That being said, I did actually really enjoy reading it. It was easy to read, and it was pretty fun. There were moments I didn’t see coming. I’m even considering getting the sequel.
One other criticism I do have, though, is that it felt a little amateurish at times. There were some typos that I noticed, but also some phrases or lines of dialogue that just felt off. While it was nothing major, I feel that little details like these can make a huge difference!
My rating is between 3.5 and 4 stars. I really did enjoy it, more than I ever would have expected. But there are definitely a few areas for improvement.

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Published February 4th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published December 1st 2009)

So I finally got round to reading this a little while back. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie on TV, but never really knew what it was about. It is quite a romance-based story, but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated.
Again, I read this quite a while ago, so my review is only going to be short.
Ethan has nightmares where he loses someone – someone he’s never met before. And then one day she appears. She turns up at school, the niece of the creepy guy who lives in the creepy mansion. She’s not exactly normal herself, either. The other kids at school pick up on this immediately, and she becomes the centre of attention. And not the good kind.
I’m not going to tell you the whole plot, but it’s full of mystery and magic and a fair bit of romance. There’s even loss; there is one particular moment toward the end that I found particularly poetic. (If you read it, here’s a hint: it’s to do with Macon and rain.)
The ending in particular left me wanting to read on. I’m actually putting this series on my Christmas wish list! 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Darkest Bloom (Shadowscent #1)

The Darkest Bloom (Shadowscent #1) by P.M. Freestone – Paperback, 448 pages – Published February 7th 2019 by Scholastic

This was another book I picked up from the library at random. The cover was beautiful, and the idea of scent-based magic was certainly intriguing. While it was a decent book, it didn’t quite live up to my hopes and expectations, sadly.

Most of the book follows Rakel as she tries to make enough money to purchase a cure for her father’s Rot. She has an expert sense of smell, meaning she is a fantastic perfumer, distilling her own creations and experimenting with different methods. But she becomes the suspect for a horrendous crime that leaves the Prince in a coma, and so she flees.

Ash is the Shield of the Prince, and his best friend. He doesn’t believe Rakel is to blame, however, and believes she holds the key to curing him. So he runs away with her, searching for a place that may not exist, and hunting down valuable ingredients for a poison that nobody even knows about.

I found this book quite slow at the start. It just didn’t excite me. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn’t right. However, towards the end there was a far more exciting plotline added, involving Ash. The cliffhanger ending left me actually wanting to read on.

While I didn’t love this, there were definitely some good aspects. It was unique for sure, and I do think there’s a lot of potential for the rest of the series. 3.5 stars!

Book Review: Uprooted

I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time now and finally managed to do so. I’m so peased I did! It was such a great book, and I really did enjoy reading it.

Agnieszka is a seemingly ordinary young girl. Her best friend is about to be taken by the Dragon, a powerful wizard who routinely takes girls into his tower for ten years before they leave the village for good. Everyone’s prepared for Kasia to go – she’s the pretty one, the talented one, the one who everyone is drawn to. Of course the Dragon is going to choose her.

Right?

Of course, nothing goes to plan. Agnieszka assumed she was safe from being chosen, due to her clumsiness and lack of appeal or talents. But of course, she is chosen. Little does she know that she was destined for this role all along.

The Dragon is feared by most, including Nieshka. But she soon learns that he is not as terrible as she thought. She also learns some valuable skills involving magic that she never knew she was capable of.

Nieshka discovers the importance of magic in protecting her village from the Wood. The Wood is full of corruption, often taking unknowing passers-by and either never releasing them or returning them to their families changed beyond repair. The Wood has been a huge threat for centuries. The Dragon holds it at bay, but nobody ever dreamed of defeating it.

Until Agnieszka came along.

It’s quite a complex plot, and there are a lot of moments where Nieshka makes mistakes. She is driven by emotion, especially when her best friend’s life is at risk. She is a passionate girl and doesn’t always think rationally. I liked her for this – don’t we all let our emotions get the better of us sometimes?

There was a small amount of romance in this book that I felt was rather unnecessary, but it didn’t overtake the plot or anything. I loved how the plot and subplots twisted together, and how many turns they took. It was exciting and intriguing and very clever.

The ending seemed a little too simple to me, though. Had they never thought to look into the Wood Queen’s origin before?

Overall it was a fantastic book. Timeless. I can see why it’s so popular, and I’m sure it will be for some time. 4 stars.

Book Review: Adamant

I can’t remember how I came across this book but I read it on the mobile Kindle app.

It alternates between two narrative voices: Ada and Kay. At first, their two narratives seem completely disconnected but they soon merge together in one single plot.

In this multiverse, there is a sort of political agreement amongst the dozens of different worlds. Ada helps smuggle runaways from other planets onto Earth, while Kay has only just graduated from the Academy and got himself a job at the Alliance. When Ada and her friends break in to the Alliance to steal some bloodrock – an important ingredient for their magic disguise formula – Kay happens to be on duty. He arrests Ada while the others escape. But there are murders happening within the Alliance, and Kay and Ada both realise that they don’t know their friends as well as they thought.

I wasn’t all that keen on Ada as a character, personally, but Kay was okay. (Haha.) Their “budding romance” was a bit strained, I think, and forced into the story too much. The sort of negative connotations around magic was quite interesting, though.

It was quite a good book, with a ton of plot twists and deception. Ada’s trust issues are really not going to be any better after all this! 3 stars.

Book Review: Tales From Earthsea

68055This is the fifth installation of The Earthsea Cycle.In this book is a collection of short stories from different eras and locations within Earthsea. There are tons of links to other tales in this series throughout this book, including character crossovers. There’s even a whole section on describing Earthsea at the end, giving a real in-depth history of the land and it’s cultures.

I am getting a little bored with this series, but I think it’s just because of how the writing has a rather archaic feel. This writing really does help create the universe, but it’s just not my thing. I appreciate how effective it is in creating the world of Earthsea and immersing you in the book, though.

My favourite tale in this book is the final one, where a woman is allowed entrance into Roke School. I’m interested in seeing if equality returns to Earthsea – women with power are looked down upon, whereas sorcerers, wizards and especially mages are respected for their power.

I will stil finish reading this series, despite not loving it as much as I maybe should. 3 starsTales from Earthsea map

Manga Review: The Ocean of Secrets Volume #1

The Ocean of Secrets Volume #1

The Ocean Secrets Volume #1 by Sophie Chan – eBook, 170 pages – Published May 16th 2017 by TokyoPop (first published April 1st 2015)

This was a really interesting little manga. Lia, living with her adoptive family, remembers nothing of her life before adoption. When her sister takes her out in their uncle’s boat, Lia discovers a world of secrets she could never have anticipated.

Just as she thinks she’s going to drown, Lia is caught and saved by Moria and Al, sailing… through the sky. They teach her about the kingdoms floating in the sky, right in the middle of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. And they tell her about the magic they wield, like the other citizens of the three sky kingdoms.

But Al and Moria can’t go back to their home. They sail around instead, avoiding capture; Al was accused of a crime involving the Queen and Princess of Lyronaz, which he had no part in. So now they are forced to roam around the skies alone.

The Peacekeepers finally catch on, though, and Al is captured. Can Lia borrow enough of Moria’s magic to rescue him? Or will she fall back to earth – to her death?

At the end of the volume, the King is finally reunited with his beloved daughter. Al is finally accepted as innocent, but is now determined to discover who is responsible for framing him.

pro_reader

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The art is pretty nice, relatively simple and clear. There were a few grammar and spelling mistakes, but in general it was written quite well. If the next volume is available for review on NetGalley then I may request it.

A really interesting idea. I like the idea of the kingdoms banished to the sky. 3.5 stars.

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