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.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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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!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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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!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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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!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

“An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time I read Fairyloot’s October choice, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, with my Discord channel’s book club!

“She would bloom where she was planted and let her roots close around the throats of her enemies.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Gotta say Shiro, only character who didn’t seem super evil? (Oh and the Crown Prince, he was decent too)

Spoiler Free: Now I’m not going to say this is the best release of 2017, because it really wasn’t. But I will say that this was a very enjoyable read, and it’s still messing with me right now.

Xifeng is not an MC that you necessarily want to live up to, but she’s amazing because of that. She is strong and powerful yes, but she is also selfish, shallow, and to be honest, more than a little bit evil. Getting to be inside her brain was downright scary at points, but that just contributed to the uniqueness of this book. The book still wants you to support her, and this creates almost an inner battle within us. Do we support this women, ready to do anything to follow her destiny, or do we support those that try to bring her down?

But the characters was not the only thing this book had going for it. While I did find the plot predictable at points, and not necessarily the book’s strongest trait, I absolutely loved the world. While it could have been more developed, I really enjoyed a book that just seemed fully immersed in the world’s culture. It didn’t stop to explain every little thing, it just existed, and that made the story flow pretty well in my opinion.

Lastly, this book went super fast. The more simple level of writing, when compared to Laini Taylor’s Strange The Dreamer and Maggie Stiefvater’s All The Crooked Saints at least, fits well to the story, but also makes it not that difficult to digest, meaning I actually finished this quite quickly! Overall, in terms of language and writing style, it felt like just your average YA fantasy.

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! I picked All The Crooked Saints as the first book to read again after my mini slump, and I am so glad I did.

Also, the facebook article by Maggie on why she wrote ATCS, and what inspired me to pick up the book when I did

“This is a madhouse!”                                                                                                                                               “The world’s a madhouse. This is a place to heal it.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I can honestly say that I felt for them all.

Spoiler Free: Some novels need 500 pages to make you like the cast of characters. Give Maggie Stiefvater 18, and you’ll be ready to put your life on the line for them. The way Maggie chose to use POV and focalization, when combined with the amazing metaphors used constantly, made the characters feel real and three dimensional from the start. For a tale as character-based as this one, this fact was integral to my enjoyment of it.

This is not an action novel, not a thriller. This is not the book that will keep you up until the late hours of the night, gripping pages and sweating bullets. You won’t zoom through each word and sentence and phrase as if you can’t get enough, as if you are racing to the end. This book is a slow one, and I have to say I loved it for it. The changes, the miracles, are not ones that should be expected to happen in an hour, a day, even a month. So yes this book was slow, with language that was meant to make you slow down rather than speed up. Yes this book, of 320 pages, took me more time to get through than books with much higher page count. But it fits the story, fits the meaning this book is trying to push. It forces you to stop and think about what you read, about the meaning Maggie is trying to get across. (And if you just can’t handle slow books, no matter how meaningful, than unfortunately I don’t believe this book is for you.)

I also have to admit that this is the book that made me fall in love with Maggie’s writing style. I’ve read/tried to read many of her books so far, and while they’ve always hooked me plot/character wise, the pace was often off putting. But taking my time with this one made me see all the hidden gems Maggie sticks into her writing. From lengthy metaphors that somehow explain perfectly what the story is trying to get across, to short lines here and there that make you stop and think, it shows how much attention to detail Maggie pays, and I cannot wait to read more of her books now.

One last thing that I loved about the book (at least, spoiler-free thing), was its level of immersion. When I was reading this book, nothing else existed. I was in Bicho Raro, seeing these people, experiencing all the emotions. Even inside the novel, mentions of other places on Earth were jarring, because while reading, it felt like Bicho Raro was all that there was, all that needed to be. The level of culture, lore, and backstory that this stand-alone had was something all stand-alones should strive for. The lacking part of most fantasy stand-alones did not exist here (which I consider to be lack of immersion, since there are less pages to develop an entire world in.)

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, and I’m still uncertain of how exactly it affected me, how it changed me. All I know is that it did.

“I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.”

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