Icon Tag: MAGIC

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Posted March 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNallyThe Looking Glass by Janet McNally
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperTeen on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

GIRLS IN TROUBLE.
That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia renamed their favorite fairy tale book, way back when they were just girls themselves. Now, Julia has disappeared—and no one knows if she’s in trouble.
Sylvie is trying to carry on Julia’s impressive legacy at the prestigious National Ballet Theatre Academy, but Julia, ever the star of the show, can’t stay hidden forever. And when she sends Sylvie a copy of their old storybook with a mysterious list inside, Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister everywhere she goes. She may be losing her grip on reality, but Sylvie has to find out if the strange, almost magical things she’s been seeing have anything to do with Julia’s whereabouts.
With the help of her best friend’s enigmatic brother and his beat-up car, Sylvie sets out to the beat of a Fleetwood Mac playlist, determined to return to New York with her sister in tow. But what Sylvie doesn’t expect to learn is that trouble comes in lots of forms—and that the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.

The Looking Glass was a book that I found hard to put down. It was a beautifully written story weaved with magical realism to handle some difficult topics.

Sylvie always idolized her older sister Julia, until she broke her leg dancing and spiraled into addiction. After nearly losing her life, Julia disappears, leaving behind Sylvie to pick up the mess she left behind and some big shoes to fill. When Julia sends Sylvie a book with a mysterious message, Sylvie thinks Julia is in trouble and is on the mission to find her sister. Along the way, she learns a little more about Julia, who she was, how she dealt with it and a lot more about herself as a person.

I enjoyed most of this book. It kept me hooked. McNally is a wonderful writer, there is something really beautiful about the way she tells her story. But where I found this book well written and beautiful, it lacked in depth and ultimately felt a little lacking.

As always, there were the absentee parents present in a YA novel.

I kept waiting for something to happen and the conclusion of the book was lackluster, unsatisfying and ultimately pointless and abrupt.

I didn’t understand how the names in the back linked to anything in the story, especially how the ending was handled with Julia’s reaction.

I think the ultimate aspect of this story was about everyone working through Julia’s addiction and the destruction she left behind after almost dying and how these people move on from it. I thought that part was well done, but some things just fell short and didn’t connect well. There was a lot more potential to this book and it just scratched the surface.

I like how working through it Sylvie digs into herself and becomes her own person as she uncovers what is important to her instead of living in her sisters’ shadows.

The romance was cute. I enjoyed it. I was glad it wasn’t the main point of the book.

Overall. I liked how the author managed to keep the book light despite such a heavy subject. I am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

 

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Review: The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Posted April 11, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan PaquetteThe Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Series: standalone
Published by Philomel Books on March 20, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

A magical story about a boy's love for his dying father and his journey to the mythic Train of Lost Things, where beloved lost objects are rescued and protected until they can be returned. Perfect for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth, The Bridge to Terabithia, and Lost in the Sun.
Marty cherishes the extra-special birthday present his dad gave him -- a jean jacket on which he's afixed numerous buttons -- because it's a tie to his father, who is sick and doesn't have much time left. So when his jacket goes missing, Marty is devastated. When his dad tells him the story of the Train of Lost Things, a magical train that flies through the air collecting objects lost by kids, Marty is sure that the train must be real, and that if he can just find the train and get his jacket back, he can make his dad better as well.
It turns out that the train is real -- and it's gone out of control! Instead of just collecting things that have been accidentally lost, the train has been stealing things. Along with Dina and Star, the girls he meets aboard the train, Marty needs to figure out what's going on and help set it right. As he searches for his jacket, and for a way to fix the train, Marty begins to wonder whether he's looking for the right things after all. And he realizes that sometimes you need to escape reality in order to let it sink in.
In this achingly beautiful adventure, it is the power of memories, and the love between a father and son, that ultimately save the day.

Marty receives a jacket from his father for his birthday, a few days before he finds out that his father has the bad kind of cancer. The jacket is meant for Marty and his father to build memories between the two of them, and for each memory, Marty get’s a pin to put on the jacket to remember his father by. When Marty and his mother travel back from a trip because his father is doing worse, Marty ends up losing his jacket. In order to find it, Marty has to believe his dad’s story about the Train of Lost Things and find a way to get on this mythical train.

This story was just wonderful. It’s a story about loss in different forms told in that fantastical, magical, mystical Middle Grade way. I found this story to be important and so well done. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking. The writing was great. The author really knew how to weave an emotional and important story with elements that children and parent’s will equally enjoy.

I find this book to be a keeper and an important one at that. It definitely allows you to use your imagination on an interesting setting of a magical train where your hearts most precious possessions go when they get lost.

I highly recommend this book for parents with children that read Middle Grade and it will go on my shelves for my son as a keeper as well.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted March 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Well guys, I finally did it. I finally read, A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had this book sitting on my shelf since 2015 and I have not picked it up due to the cover. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover, but this was one of those instances that I did. But, I was watching a ton of book wrap ups on youtube and this book kept appearing and it just had so many glowing reviews from booktubers, that I decided that I was going to go and give it a chance.

So this story follows Kell, who lives in Red London and is one of a very rare and dying breed of magic user (as far as he could tell). Kell can travel through doors into other Londons, or as he calls them, Gray, White and Red Londons. There is a mention of Black London, but due to its complicated history – no one travels there.

Kell likes to smuggle and collect objects from other Londons, so when he accidentally accepts a job and smuggles something he shouldn’t into Red London, he brings danger right into his back yard.

The story also follows Laila, a cross dressing girl who wants something more out of her life. She wants a ship and she wants an adventure. So when she stumbled into Kell and steals a black stone from him, she ends up attaching herself to him and the danger in hopes of finding something more to her purpose in life.

This book was actually pretty good. It was an interesting read. As far as fantasy books go this was was easy, cozy, page turning and not at all intimidating. If you are the type of person who wants to try fantasy, but find it a bit intimidating I feel like this book is for you. It really was just an easy read.

I liked Kell. I liked him even if he had that special factor to him, but he was just a really good character. He wasn’t perfect, which made me happy and his love for his brother – Rhys just go so deep, it’s fantastic.

I didn’t find myself as attached to it as I wanted to. I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but I didn’t love it. It was a good book for me to read, while reading some of the other things that I wasn’t necessarily into. I didn’t read it in one sitting, it did take me a couple of days to get through. I liked the fact that it mostly follows just two people, so your head isn’t swimming with too much information and the author gave us just enough for it to have great world building and great character building. The book was very creative, I really enjoyed the world a lot. There is obviously a lot more that we are still waiting to discover, but book one is solid, the writing was really good and I am looking forward to reading book two – hopefully soon.

I do totally recommend this book because I believe there are people that will love it and I do find it a must read if you like great writing, interesting characters and worlds.

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Posted October 20, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

A great start to what is promising to be quite an original and new series!

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a Magoi, a magic carrier. Not only is she a magic carrier, she is also the legendary Kingmaker who has escaped the clutches of her violent mother from Fisa and is pretending to be a soothsayer in a traveling circus.

Cat thought she was doing fine in hiding her identity until the non-magical Hoi Polloi warlord finds her and practically kidnaps her. Griffin is Beta Sinta and part of the non-magical family who somehow overthrown the last magical Magoi royals who ruled Sinta and now he needs Cat in order to bring peace to the land. Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker and knows that she is able to use her powers to divine the truth through lies and that she would make a powerful weapon for the new ruling family.

This was an interesting read. I picked this up because everyone and their mother’s were raving about this new series and I happen to be an old lover of fantasy, so I knew I had to read this and see what the fuss is all about.

A Promise of Fire is a great introduction into a new world that Amanda Bouchet has pasted together. I love that she uses Greek Mythology, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology, so naturally I was excited to see what she can do with it.

I think it’s a bit hard to review the first in the series of the new fantasy books. There are a lot of holes to fill and it makes me as a reader a bit more frustrated. I also have to take into the account that even though this is a fantasy, it is not a traditional fantasy, but more of a romantic fantasy, so my expectations have to alter themselves.

We spend a lot of time following Cat and Griffin as they make their way towards Sinta and there is a lot of the same antagonistic play through the journey. As much as I enjoyed the bickering it was starting to feel a bit too repetitive and I felt like much of the book was spent traveling to Sinta and not enough of details of the world was given. I am a sucker for world building and although Bouchet did a great job with her first book, the details were murky at best.

What I did enjoy is the romance between Cat and Griffin and all the bickering between them. I do have to ask, is it just me or does Cat seem a lot younger than Griffin? A LOT. I get that she has a prickly exterior and for good reasons, but the level of maturity between the two was stark.

The humor alone was worth the read and Bouchet’s writing is just simply stunning. It really pulls you into this world and it’s hard to let go. It does make you want more, so much more and might be part of the reason I felt so frustrated. I wanted more details, I wanted to know more about the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. I I think if readers who have no basic understanding of the Greek Mythology would find some stuff with the god’s mentioned a bit confusing to say the least.

I cannot wait to see how the secondary characters develop, the Alpha Sinta and her sister’s look like an interesting bunch. But, I was confused when Griffin promised Cat that once she meets his sister, she would understand why she was Alpha. I didn’t feel like Cat understood and neither did I to be honest. But, there is some potential for more romance between the princesses and the soldiers. I especially like the forbidden type aspect it’s got going here.

Also, Cat’s history is a huge background to this story and although no big reveal comes of it in this book (which I guess is really important moving forward) it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what is going on, and who she really is. It is a bit baffling that Griffin is slow on the uptake.

Although all of it aside, I LOVED Griffin the best. I think there is a sense of mystery with him that I hope gets resolved in later books. He is a Hoi Polloi warlord but there is something different and special about it and I wonder HOW it came to that.

Overall, I am happy I gave this a shot. The writing was great, talented, and the humor was just what I needed. So I am definitely looking forward to more. I am officially sucked in and need more books and details to fill that hunger.

 

Memorable Quotes

“She talks big, but she’s made of custard.”
“Fluffy and full of cream?” Kato wiggles blond eyebrows at me. Carver grins. “Think she’s sweet, too?”
My eyes spit fire. “Bite me. You’ll find out.”

“You are not tying me up in a cave!”

Flinty eyes swing my way. “I can’t have you attached to me while I fight.”

“Untie me, then!”

He snorts, and I roll my eyes.

“Two hours, then the cave,” Beta Sinta says. “Enjoy the sunlight.”

My jaw goes slack. “Unless you’re planning on knocking me unconscious, dragging me to the temple, and practicing ventriloquy, I still have to say yes!”

Griffin’s face shuts down entirely.

“We’ll discuss this later.”

 

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