The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

“Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.

And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it’s a typical week for the Kane family.

To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly?

Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello guys! It’s Allison here, back with my Throne of Fire review. I’ve been sick so I have had all the time in the world to read.

Quote: “We can be slow to realize what is important. Sometimes, it takes us a while to appreciate something new, something that might change us for the better.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5

Favorite Character: Zia Rashid

Spoiler Free: This second book did not suffer through second book slump. In fact, it realistically followed its predecessor, giving some space between the first book. It kept up the humor of a Rick Riordan book. It also kept up the action and pace. You can see the build up for a good solid finale, but the book holds itself on its own.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

“Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hi guys! Allison here! So after reading Magnus Chase, I had the strongest urge to reread the Kane Chronicles so that’s exactly what I did! I don’t usually like reading author’s older pieces after reading their newer ones recently. After all, every author is constantly growing. However, this experience wasn’t bad at all!

Quote: “I am Carter Kane, Blood of the Pharaohs, Eye of Horus. And now, Set-brother, uncle, traitor-I’m going to crush you like a gnat.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8

Favorite Character: Sadie Kane

Spoiler Free: This isn’t my first time reading this book. However, I remembered nothing about it. I have never experienced such a fresh reread. This is one of Riordan’s underrated series, and it’s honestly pretty good. It’s a different take than “children of the gods”, especially since there is a whole focus on magic people who hate the gods. This book has amazing family dynamics and an interesting plot. The romance side of the picture has some awkward dynamics, but it could be worse.

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A Jot of Blood by Katherine Bayless

“Adolescence is hard enough, but add magic to the mix and things have a way of getting complicated in a hurry. Even at Coventry Academy, one of the best schools in the world for the magically inclined, some ‘gifts’ mean nothing but trouble. What do you do when anything—your clothes, your food, the accidental brush of a fingertip—can instantly reveal the dark secrets of your closest friend … or, worse, a mortal enemy?

Coventry may have been Lire Devon’s haven since she was a little girl, but there are some who despise and even fear her rare clairvoyant power. Now, after years of simmering resentment, Lire’s nemesis, a sorceress with beauty, status, and well-connected friends, has thrown down the gauntlet. The challenge will push Lire’s resourcefulness to its limits and beyond—to a place where arcane dangers lurk and the price of power is knowledge too excruciating to bear.

Warning: The contents of this book include one surly werewolf, a snarky invisible prankster, and enough indelicate language to make a succubus blush.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! One of my goals for 2018 is to finally get through my e-ARCs so I can start picking up more, and this book was the first step in the right direction!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author  for providing me this ARC to review (as well as Netgalley for putting me in touch with them). Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: It kept bouncing between Zach and Cal!

Spoiler Free: When I picked up this book, I didn’t know what to expect! While it has all-around decent reviews, it also did not have the largest readership yet (although I hope to change this!), so it really could’ve gone either way.

While I’d consider the beginning fairly rocky, as we were introduced to our MC and her life (and extreme prejudice she faces due to her gift), it quickly got better as we were introduced to the partners in crime. I “hit it off” with Zach and Cal almost immediately, but it did take me a few chapters to connect with Lire and her sometimes brash personality.

Additionally, while I usually find myself lost in a book without a clear cut plot, I found myself just enjoying the day to day antics this trio got up to (all enhanced by Cal and Zach’s witty banter/comments!).

My main issue with the novel was revealed in the chaotic ending, and my inability to keep track of what was even going on at points. This part of the book revealed that the world is explained as things relevant are occurring, which often led you to being overwhelmed with important information exactly as action was also taking place. It also led to important parts of the world being concealed until later in the novel, even if they seemed like things that should have definitely been mentioned earlier on. (Lastly, as soon an important world point was shown to the reader, it seemed to appear quite frequently in Lire’s inner thoughts, contributing to the oddness of certain facts not being mentioned sooner.)

All in all, this was definitely a great read, and I hope the series continues! I miss these characters already!

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The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon? ”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello! Allison here and back with my second Magnus Chase review.

Quote: “I figured something out. You can’t hold onto hate forever. It won’t do a thing to the person you hate, but it’ll poison you, sure enough.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10

Favorite Character: Alex Fierro

Spoiler Free: Please read this series. Just please read this series.

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The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

“Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello! Allison here! After reading Magisterium, I got the urge to read a Rick Riordan book. With this new found motivation, I got through the last two books of Magnus Chase and, oh boy, did I enjoy them! Here’s my review for the second book of the series.

Quote: “Maybe that’s why Vidar, the god of vengeance, had seemed so gentle and quiet. He knew it didn’t take much to start a chain reaction of violence and death. One insult. One theft. One severed chain.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10

Favorite Character: Alex Fierro

Spoiler Free: Maybe I should have written this review before I finished book three, but it’s too late now. I loved this book. It was a little slow at first and I was a little lost because I haven’t read book 1 in a while, but I fell in love with the characters. If you’re looking for a series with a diverse cast, romance in the background, and a strong theme of “found family”, this is definitely the series for you. I cannot believe this series is technically middle grade. Also, a third of my highlights is chapter titles, I was laughing so hard. Got to love Riordan humor.

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The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

“A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello guys! Allison here! I’m back with a buddy read with Meaghan!

Quote: “This is just prison with sandwiches.”

Stars (Out of 10): 6.5

Favorite Character: Ummmm…..I’ll get back to you on that

Spoiler Free: I’m trying to find words for my review, but this is the best way I think I can describe my experience. Imagine you’re on a train. You didn’t like the place you were leaving from and you for sure don’t think you’re going to like the place you’re going. As the train leaves the station, it promptly derails and everything that could go wrong does. However, after a while, the train just hops right back on the tracks like nothing bad ever happened. You’re pleasantly surprised by all the views along the way. And as you reach the final station, it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. It’s the most unexpected thing, but it makes it so much better. This is the best way to describe my experience reading the Silver Mask.

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The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead. ”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! It’s Meaghan here again with another review! After dreading the continuation of this series (don’t remind me of book 3 please), I finally got into book 4 of the Magisterium! Here’s what I thought!

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Havoc will always be the only good character anymore

Spoiler Free: This book was better than I expected. Not that much better, mind you, but better than the trainwreck that book 3 was led me to believe.

The entire book is pretty action packed, built mainly on build up of prior books, but does have the occasional rest chapter, where information is gathered and plans are formed. This lead to a super quick read. However, where this was a flaw in book 3 and led to a feeling of an unfinished book, I felt it added well to the plot of this novel, keeping readers on their toes and needing to pay attention to every moment.

However, while I felt the plot was definitely strong, and led to the high rating I gave this installment of the series, both the world building and characters had holes I just couldn’t overlook. While I won’t go into detail in this section to avoid spoilers, I felt many explanations for certain laws/traditions of the world were off, or felt a bit out there. Additionally, there were two major problems with the returning characters, especially the ones that only appeared near the end. Firstly, this book made me realize just how idiotic the community of Mages is, and made me lose any trust in their ability to do anything, ever. Additionally, some of the characters and their actions just seemed so off from what we learned about them before.

Finally, we make our way to our MC, Call. I normally found his narration unique, funny even, but at times during this novel, he just got annoying. His thoughts for most of the novel went more to the “everyone hates me” mood, and while the occasional angst and teenage self-pity is fine, but this was just excessive. I get his head space, I get the why behind all of this doubt, but even after multiple moments of confirmation from other characters, this doesn’t lessen. It made certain moments annoying to read, as sometimes irrelevant feelings seemed to be explained again just to add filler. Additionally, this created a very repetitive mantra at points.

Also, let me just say this, but I still can’t stop drawing parallels between this series and Harry Potter. It’s not so much in the larger details anymore, but the smaller details. But this has always been the case from the beginning!

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The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! One of my goals for 2018 is to make sure I review every book I read (besides graphic novels and some other exceptions), so I’m catching up on the three books I’ve read so far now!

Stars (Out of 10): 4/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I didn’t get to know anyone enough to like them (only decent dude seemed to be the love interest though)

Spoiler Free: Let’s preface this by saying I was originally going to give this a 6/10, but then I started actually writing this review.

There were many things I didn’t like about this book. First, we have this random romance that really had no purpose at all, and completely disappeared once the real plot got started. Additionally, I didn’t find myself actually liking any of the characters. Sofia just got on my nerves, and I couldn’t find myself relating to her at all from the very beginning. In a horror novel, this lack of attachments means you just end up not caring what happens to the character, which takes away the impact all the torture and gore had.

Also, I personally felt that gore/violence was used to substitute for actual plot, which kinda had me rolling my eyes at points. This also mean that the ending kinda fell flat due to wishy-washy build up.

However, I do have to say this book made me curious to the truth behind it. Due to my dissatisfaction with the lack of concrete answers to any of my questions in this book’s endings, I feel almost forced to continue the series. I’m way too curious now to know what’s all going on!

(Sorry for the abnormally short review, I just felt the spoiler section wouldn’t add much more than repetition of ideas already shared!)

Everless by Sara Holland

“In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time, I read Everless with my YA Lit Discord’s book club, and oh man was it a rollercoaster! I absolutely loved it, more thoughts below!

Stars (Out of 10): 9/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Liam (so much depth throughout the story!)

Spoiler Free: Oh man, I could not put this book down! This definitely would’ve been one of those “devour in one sitting” books had I not been reading it on my commute (and been forced to put it down constantly.) Right from the beginning, the plot and world just draw you in. You’re constantly forced to consider every event and the secrets it holds, as Jules constantly reminds you that secrets are everywhere, and the Geldings and other royals will do whatever it takes to keep them. And this book definitely delivered on that front! I questioned everything, had so many theories, and still I was surprised by every twist this book seemed to take! That, plus the able to fully capture my attention without a full focus on romance, just proved how well written this book was, and how fascinating the idea was.

Almost everything about this book screamed that it was just another YA fantasy book in the kingdoms wave. Yes, the premise seemed awesome, but so many do. So needless to say, I definitely went in with mediocre expectations. But with each new page, the book constantly rose above and beyond anything I expected it to be!

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