Category Archives: All Reviews

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Limeros is victorious – but Auranos and Paelsia now have to deal with the consequences of their actions in book one. Now Jonas and Cleo must take a stand against some very powerful enemies. And Magnus will have to decide what is more important to him – love or duty – as he’s forced to marry a woman whose life he destroyed.

Title: Rebel Spring
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms, Book 2
Publish Date: November 27th, 2013 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Jonas becomes the leader of the rebels and a very, very wanted man. Cleo has just lost her family and throne and is now a prisoner in her own home, forced to marry Magnus. Lucia slumbers deeply for mysterious reasons. And Magnus is trying to figure out where his loyalties really lie.

The plot is still thickening in this one as people really start to see new sides to new characters. Lo and behold, the Limerian king actually had a magical guide, telling him to slaughter everyone that stood in his way, a guide that has ties to Alexius, who visits Lucia in her dreams, and Lucia has the ability to do practically anything with her powers. Hmm… the mysteries surrounding this one deepen.

Plus, here’s a kicker. Jonas and Cleo are trying to set aside their differences (Jonas kidnapped Cleo in the first one and he does it again in this one) and team up. But of course, things don’t always go according to plan. Jonas isn’t the best strategist, and so he often leads his comrades into very dangerous, unlucky situations. Cleo may be getting better at lying and faking her way through most of the things she’s facing, but even she can’t silver-tongue the King of Blood.

And there’s a lot of blood. That’s for sure. Lots of action in this, plus I’m finally starting to lean towards certain characters more, which is what the author was probably trying to do. Get readers to root for certain characters, root for a certain side. I find that I’m actually the least fond of Lucia. Because she hasn’t witnessed a lot of hard times in her life (she was the favored child, spoiled by her father but hated by her mother), she seems like a naive brat who throws tantrums whenever she doesn’t get her way. And now she’s giving whatever darkness she has within her time to play.

Four stars for this one – I’m really starting to get hooked at this point.

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard; Snow Like Ashes series by Sara Raasch; and Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas.

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The Book of Dust Volume 1: La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman

Before Lyra started her adventures, her coming was foretold. See how it really started in La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman, a new book in the same world as His Dark Materials.

Title: The Book of Dust Volume 1: La Belle Sauvage
Author: Phillip Pullman
Series: The Book of Dust 01
Publish Date: October 19, 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Digital library book

Publisher’s DescriptionMalcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…

Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him.

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

5 stars isn’t enough praise for this book. Having loved the original trilogy, His Dark Materials, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lyra’s early life. So much so, that I went from this book right back to the original trilogy. Pullman did a fantastic job of creating a much larger role for very minor characters in the original. This also felt much more like a straight adventure tale rather than a moral tale with an adventure.

The flight from the nunnery that Malcolm and “the kitchen girl” make is absolutely heart pounding. I literally was up until the wee hours reading to make sure they were OK. However, the tension lasts until practically the last page, so it was hard to know when to put it down and take a breath. The evil character and his daemon, the disabled hyena, that pursues the young people and baby Lyra are villains straight from your worst nightmares. The one thing that kept me from despair was knowing that Lyra makes it to Oxford and is taken in.

Other recommendations…

I highly recommend the whole body of work from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials!

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

When a young man is murdered in Paelsia by an Auranian rich boy, revenge becomes the name of the name and ignites a war that’s been a long time coming. Three kingdoms battle it out for ultimate power over the land in this high-stakes fantasy book.

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms Book 1
Publish Date: December 11th 2012 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war… Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the series, I can appreciate more how much all of the characters have grown. Mostly, I’m glad that Cleo has gotten over herself because I basically can’t stand her in this one. She’s petty and kind of dumb, plus she has the tendency to put herself in a lot of positions where she’s vulnerable enough to do something bad or have something bad done to her.

Magnus and Jonas also seem young in their desires. Magnus is constantly trying to please anyone in his life, including his sister, whom he’s in love with, and Jonas is emotional over his brother’s death and therefore willing to stab anyone or anything that gets in his way, so he goes to war for the sake of revenge and glory and ends up seeing the worst of what he’ll have to face.

A lot of people say this series is a young adult version of Game of Thrones. I haven’t actually read the books or watched the television adaptation; however, I know that it bounces around between character perspectives, which enables readers/viewers to gain glimpses of different sides of the story. Falling Kingdoms does the same thing – mostly following Magnus/Lucia (who represent Limeros), Cleo (Auranos), and Jonas (Paelsia) as they eventually collide with each other in fierce and sometimes devastating ways. I really love this type of writing because I like to keep up with all the sides of the story, not just one.

That being said, this wasn’t a book that really held my attention just yet. Looking back now, I can definitely see it was targeted to be the real deal introduction to everyone and the plot and that we get the juicier details and bigger plot twists as the story progresses. So sometimes it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep reading through the night. Regardless, I rated it a four, so it was great enough for that!

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

Danielle Jensen’s Malediction trilogy, Sherry Thomas’s Elemental trilogy, and Death Sworn duology by Leah Cypress.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

Cinelle Barnes is a creative non-fiction writer and educator from Manila, Philippines. She writes memoirs and personal essays on trauma, growing up in Southeast Asia, and on being a mother and immigrant in America.

Title: Monsoon Mansion
Author: Cinelle Barnes
Publish Date: April 1, 2018 by Little A
Genre: Memoir
Source: Purchased through the Amazon’s Kindle First program

Publisher’s Description: Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

My April “Kindle First” book choice was fantastic. Monsoon Mansion is a memoir that immerses you in the life of the author as a child.

I hardly knew anything about the Philippines before reading the book other than the name of Imelda Marcos and her huge shoe collection. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished in yet another “third” world country, but the author vividly describes the differences between her own family’s life and privileges and the abject poverty of the servants’ village life and the misery in Manila outside her gates.

I still marvel at the author’s ability to put perspective on her mother’s behavior. Barnes describes the relationship in a poignant scene in the final chapter as she answers her own daughter’s questions.

…Then she asks, “Mama, do you miss your mama?”

“I do, but it’s better to miss her than to be around her.”

“Because she does things that hurt people?”

That’s how I’ve explained it to her: that my mother cannot come near us because she does regrettable things.

Barnes’ mother was a true nightmare, but her father, whose choice to abandon the family brings about the depraved situation the author grows up in, is portrayed so richly that the reader fully understands the complexity of his thought process and the details of his personality, and it’s easy to understand why he made the choices he did and that he was truly trying to do what was best in the scope of his own human weakness.

Barnes writes in such a way that the mansion itself and the weather are also characters that play a role in her childhood. The deteriorating mansion is a symbol of her mother’s decay, but it has its own characteristics and can haunt or protect the children. It’s described in such rich detail that I feel if I walked in the front door, I would recognize it immediately. The monsoon that is the catalyst to her father leaving, also provides the author with a glimpse of the freedom brought by big water. It’s such an interesting parallel to explore the flood waters and forever after be drawn to the ocean.

This book is definitely a 5 and I look forward to reading more of Cinelle Barnes’ work.

Rising Tide by Lynn Steigleder

In a world where land is scarce, the forces of good and evil will form and battle it out.

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

rising-tide.jpgTitle: Rising Tide
Author: Lynn Steigleder
Series: Eden’s Wake 01
Publish Date: June 17, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Provided by the Author

Publisher’s DescriptionRising Tide depicts a world in which land is at a premium due to the advancing sea, where man’s attempt to adapt has led to a decay of morals into survival of the fittest. In the midst of the ocean, a crew of racketeers rescues a stranded diver, Ben Adams. Is the rescue just a fortunate coincidence for Ben, or has he been led to this rendezvous with fate for a common goal? A mysterious island inhabited by a primitive yet advanced race of people. A devious ship captain’s metamorphosis into the essence of evil and a ship’s container discovered by itself in a billion square miles of ocean all play a role in this tale of rebirth for a world corrupted by the collapse of morality.  

 


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

This novel has an interesting premise. The world has descended into chaos because the world’s oceans have risen. A ship’s captain descends into evil as his crew meets a primitive people and becomes a force for good.

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I liked the idea. It was a new concept to me and showed promise. It was a quick read. The world and backstory are set up quickly, within the first few pages/chapters. But the characters weren’t fleshed out as well to me. I found that I wasn’t as sad as I should be when this character dies or these two characters get married. There were some twists that I didn’t see coming. Overall it was a good start to a series.

Even though I read it fairly quickly, I found my interest waning. Rising Tide is a promising start but I felt that it needed a bit more work. Because this is the start to a series, I give it three shipping containers, in hopes that things pick up in later installments.

Other recommendations…

Check out these other popular Science Fiction reads! Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Martain by  Andy Weir, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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

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