Category Archives: 3-Okay

A Dream of Ashes by Orlando A. Sanchez

Ava James has been framed for murder – and the real culprit behind the Mystic deaths is drawing closer to home with every kill.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleA Dream of Ashes 
Author: Orlando A. Sanchez
Series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics 
Publish Date: April 27, 2016
Publisher: OM Publishing
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Provided by the author & Wordslinger.

Publisher’s Description:

Mystics. Magic. Murder.

A Rogue Mystic. A Ruthless Killer. A Dark Secret.

Ava James is a fire mystic with the Mystic Investigative Division. As a branch of the Enclave, a worldwide mystic organization, the MID is feared, respected and reviled. When the half-charred body of a Mystic is found, the Enclave sends her to investigate the strange death. Ava finds that all the clues point to the killer being a fire mystic, one of her own. Accused by the Enclave of working with the killer she must solve the case before a secret buried in her past is revealed and destroys her world.

Can she save herself? Will she find the murderer?

If you like hardcore, fast-moving action, complex mystical powers and an unstoppable heroine, then you’ll love Orlando A. Sanchez’ thrilling new series: Chronicles of the Modern Mystics. Buy A Dream of Ashes and join Ava on her adventure today!

Kat Mandu says…

In A Dream of Ashes, readers are introduced to Ava, a mystic with the ability to create and manipulate fire. Right from the beginning of the book, she’s been framed for several vicious murders she didn’t commit, not to mention she’s being hunted by a group of obviously wicked mystics trying to kill her. As she tries to navigate her way through a unique New York City without getting caught or killed, she’s gotta figure out where her uncle is and just who he was taken by. But getting mixed up in the affairs of mystics much more powerful than her is not what she intended, so she’ll need every ally and skill she can get.

Likes: This really is full of action and cool visuals, so it reads like a fast-paced movie with lots of awesome graphics. Plus, you know, the majority of the characters are Japanese, so ninjas. Either way, I really loved the easy-to-read flow of the book and I was quite fond of the quirky one-liners Ava gets to dish out.

What didn’t grab me: Like my fellow reviewer, this book was lacking in that really strong world-building that really would have made this a five for me. I had the feeling that the more the author wrote, the more ideas he came up with, which is nice but makes the beginning lackluster compared to the final moments. I would get caught up in the action but was left wondering just what Enclaves were and what Enforcers did and how everything worked out. Even if the info isn’t dumped at the beginning and spread out in hints throughout the book, it would have improved that clear structure of Ava’s New York/Japan aka “Mystic world.” I just didn’t get much that would help me really understand how everything works.

The only other thing is that there is quite a few organizations that come into play, plus numerous allies. I wish I could have gotten some more details on them as well, so I didn’t have to go back and ask myself “Okay, what did these guys do again?”

I just think this needs a clearer focus, but overall, I was impressed and give this three stars.

Luna Lovebooks says… 

“Go lick your wounds. When I see you next I will erase your existence.’ He turned and walked away as the sphere turned opaque and shifted us away from Nezu. We are going to die.”

Likes: This book is fast paced and action packed! Much like poor Ava, the reader doesn’t get to stop and rest. The characters and world are interesting, if not fully developed. Ava was resilient, but still vulnerable and had moments of weakness.  I love the fact that she is strong but not super woman. The mysterious Ghost and his daughter are two characters I’d like to get to know better. I would also love to know more about warders and mystics in general. This may slow down the book a bit, but it would also back up the world building.

Dislikes: I feel there are too many unanswered questions, even if this is the first book in the series. The cover is part of what drew me to pick up this book. But when I received my copy the cover is very pixilated and loses some of its beauty. I’m am sure that as a writer Sanchez knows the world he is creating. It feels solid, but as a reader I was lost.  There isn’t much information given about enclaves, mystics, or those special sticks. I feel that the plot should have slowed down to give some more world building to the readers.

Over all I give this book 4 mystics. 


Other recommendations…

If you like magic with unique systems and spins, we’d recommend Brandon Sanderson, J. F. Lewis, and M.K. Hobson. 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Chasm by L.K. Kuhl

What do you do when your children are missing and your world crashes?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Chasm
Author: L.K. Kuhl
Series: Stand-alone.
Publish Date: May 5, 2016
Genre: Romantic thriller
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Source: Provided by the author.

Publisher’s Description:

What happens when you’re in love with your children’s abductor?

Taylor Vine thinks she can fight off the demons of her past when she moves back home to Estill Springs, Tennessee, but it doesn’t take long to see that things aren’t quite that easy. The bumps she hears in the night soon escalate, keeping her up at nights, and it isn’t long before her most precious possessions, her children, get abducted. She finds herself in a race against time to try to find them before it’s too late. One wrong move and the outcome could be disastrous.

Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: One of the qualities of a good book is the setting. Kuhl hit the success button with this novel. The symbolic desperation and gloom that fill many of the characters’ lives is also symbolically represented by the setting. I did like the characters. Their emotions were described with gut-wrenching detail and seemed very honest and very real to me.

Dislikes: The plot and sub plots were not brought to satisfying conclusions to me. It almost seemed like the author knew where she wanted the story to go but it fell short and seemed like there was still something left to be settled. While I did like the characters, they seemed to make the wrong decisions even after talking themselves out of making it in the first place. There were spaces in the story that were oddly verbose and overly descriptive.

There was so much going on it this one that I was both intrigued and deterred by everything that was going on. For this reason I give the book 3 rocking horses. 

Other recommendations…

Check out these other romantic thrillers: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, Don’t Tell by Karen Rose, Lone Wolf Rising by Jami Brumfield.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Troll Whispers by Ashley C. Harris

This stand-alone novel set in the Troll Universe gives readers a closer look or how Cordelia came to be who she is in the later novels!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleTroll Whispers 
Author: Ashley C. Harris 
Series: Troll Universe (trilogy)
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author/publisher.

Publisher’s Description:

The highly anticipated standalone novella from the International Bestselling TROLL series!

At the age of seventeen, Cordelia Connor’s teenage life is not what it seems…. By day, she attends high school and pretends to be normal. But by night, she and a select group of other teens, called the Knights, spend their time training and sparring. They are preparing to fight the most magically seductive and wicked creatures of all, the trolls.

Cordelia yearns for her classroom life to end so she can help hunt underground. But time seems to be going by ever so slowly, especially while she watches other high schoolers date and have fun. To Cordelia, non-knight boys are off limits. Something that’s not a disappointment until the new kid, Daemon Banks, shows up.

Daemon is nothing like the knight boys or high school males she has known. He’s taller, stronger, faster, and up to something in Cordelia’s little beach side town. Because he’s a normal human, whatever his motives are… they should be off limits. But when a possible troll sighting sends the knights to a débaucheras party that Daemon is attending. Suddenly, his and Cordelia’s worlds get scrambled, and she’ll have to decide if she should let Daemon in.

Who to trust becomes alarming as troll sightings and mischief turn into a grave battle. Because of a traitor among the knights, the perilous treat only seems to be multiplying in Cordelia’s world.

Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: The overall story is entertaining and fairly original. I enjoyed reading it. It was interesting to know the back story to Cordelia’s character and get a little more immersed in the world of trolls. There were a few twists and surprises that I did not see coming that made my jaw drop. Troll Whispers is a fairly fast-paced read.

Dislikes: This is an advanced readers copy, but there were still numerous areas with awkward/repetitive wording that I hope gets fixed before the final copy. While it is a good read, I feel it could be a bit more engaging. There are sections that lagged for me.

Taking into consideration that this is an advanced copy I give this book three knives. 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Troll Series by Ashley C. Harris, Camp So and So by Mary Mccoy, The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. Today I’m back with the third review for the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a series about a feisty princess who’s anything but ordinary.

TitleCalling on Dragons 
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Publish Date: March 1, 2003
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:
Those wicked wizards are back–and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They intend to take over the Enchanted Forest once and for all . . . unless Cimorene finds a way to stop them. And some people think being queen is easy.


Kat Mandu says…

This is the book three of four in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and sometimes I find it strange that the author didn’t write the whole series for children. Again, this has a nice little innocent touch to it, and I’m actually surprised that this book turn a turn from its prequel and had more of a lighter plot, more child-like and less complicated. The first two books seemed to have more of an edge and less convenient holes to fall into.

That being said, I loved it; each book has its own way of leading up to the finale and is narrated by different characters. And although I loved the point of views of both Mendenbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, and Morwen, a sassy witch with lots of cats and a friend to most of the lead characters, I rather wish Cimorene would get her turn in the spotlight again. The first one continues to be my favorite in the series and I think it’s because I’m so drawn to her character.

Again, this book plays with a lot of different fairy tale ideas and songs, from the princess and the pea, to Old MacDonald, to the retelling of Rapunzel. I love books that contain more than one retelling (after all, I’m a fan of all princesses, not just some) and that it does it in a simple way that avoids distracting from the real story.

I wasn’t sure what to think about some of the character conversations in this. The cats were humorous, providing sarcasm in good moments. However, there’s a whole scene where the crew burst into this guy’s house (okay, technically it’s a tower, but he lives there, so) and blame him for not being hospitable…which I find incredibly weird because no one would do that in real life (or at least I’d hope not). But like I said, this book has its innocent kicks and the characters tend to be very headstrong anyway.

Though it’s my least favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it a lot and you will too!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Susan Fletcher, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane.

Ignite by Sara B. Larson

In this sequel to Defy, Alexa and Damian face a new threat – supposedly from the allies they just made. Can they stop the real bad guys from spreading their magical influence across Antion and prevent a bloody war?

AuthorSara B. Larson
SeriesDefy, Book 02
Publish Date: December 30, 2014, by Scholastic
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionMurder, kidnapping, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson’s acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy — before it’s too late?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

The characters in Ignite are what make this story for me, even more than the engaging plot. We are introduced to familiar faces and also meet a few new bad guys that provide trouble for Alexa, Damian, and the rest of the Antion realm. Tanoori and Eljin are two of my favorites. Tanoori is fierce and heroic, but also charitable as she helps out with the process of rebuilding Antion despite her troubled past. Eljinn is also a character with a hidden past and a scar that bears the burden of that history on his face. He’s a sorcerer and well, he’s a badass.

Also new to the story are the two twin villain sorcerers, Rafe and Vera, who are skilled in mind control. They’re using their power to manipulate both Blevon and Antion in hopes that the two will go to war with each other so that Armando, Damian’s evil uncle, can take over the whole world and gain access to magic that will make them essentially unstoppable.

Though I’m certainly a little bit leery of the romance issue between Alexa, Damian, and Rylan, the excitement of the plot makes up for what that plot lacks. It’s engaging – I especially love the scene where Alexa defies orders and goes to interrogate Manu. Magical fight scenes are always epic and this particular one was no exception. In fact, it was probably my favorite scene in the whole trilogy.

The romance just still doesn’t do it for me. I know that Alexa turns Damian down at the end of Defy, for personal reasons (she doesn’t think she’s good enough for him, or good enough to be queen); but in this, she’s forced to admit she really loves him in order to break him out of Vera’s spell. I just felt like it was a convenient little tidbit that made the story flow. Real mind control doesn’t break like that (for the record, I thought it was weird in Divergent too, when Tobias was under mind control and attempted to kill Tris; this was a very similar scene).

And then Rylan (who is upset for being turned down for the same reason I was upset she turned him down) is naturally, kind of hostile to Alexa. AND SHE’S ALL LIKE “BUT Y U MAD?” and tries to act like things are normal, but they aren’t. And it’s frustrating.

The major moment in this book that I was so incredibly flustered with – and this isn’t really a spoiler because there’s several moments where she’s with Rafe. But this really did it for me and is the reason I give it a three. At one point in the book, Alexa is positioned on a tree where she is overlooking the Daniisian (the enemies in the story) camp, where Rafe, the bad guy, is holding Damian’s half-brother hostage. She’s wearing A FRICKING BOW AND ARROW and is within range of killing Rafe, but doesn’t. She even feels HELPLESS to do anything as Rafe threatens to abuse the child. My thoughts when reading this scene?

WHAT THE SAM H HELL?!!! SHOOT HIM! YOU’RE A BADASS WARRIOR WITH ARCHERY SKILLS. If Alexa would have shot him, half her problems would have been solved. I MEAN, COME ON. I’ve never really felt like Alexa was smart, which might have been okay because she was very involved and fierce. But at this point, I felt Alexa was really dumb.

And I know. If we kill off Rafe, it would have removed one of the major plots to follow in the third book. But Rafe wasn’t the main villain, he was just one of the lead bad guy’s minions. SO THEREFORE SHE COULD HAVE SHOT HIM.

Alas, she did not.

Again, this isn’t a bad story. Rating it a three doesn’t mean I hated it. I just liked it. No more, no less. If you’re looking for a cool follow up high fantasy tale set in the jungle with some pretty cool characters, I recommend this book.

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

Recommended for fans of Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, and Tamora Pierce.