review · Uncategorized

Review: The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner

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The balance of good and evil has been left in the hands of a thirteen year old…
Since the beginning of time, Karmanic matter worked silently and unassisted keeping good and evil in balance, until growing greed in the world meant Karma couldn’t keep up. As World War I rages, the secret Karmanic Sovereign Legion works behind the scenes to help Karma.
A suspicious train accident and an odd stone-shaped object that belonged to his father thrust Cole McCarthy and two schoolmates into the middle of this battle to keep dark forces in check.
With only the powerful stone, a letter, and grandfatherly Norm to guide them, the trio must unravel clues and tap into unknown strengths to discover who Cole’s father really was and keep themselves and those they love safe.

SPOILER FREE (mostly, because I’m not quite sure what counts as a spoiler for some people, so I won’t say it is COMPLETELY spoiler free)

We’ve got this book from an author in exchange for an honest review and that is exactly what I am going to write.

This is the first book in the Karmanic Sovereign Legion series.

First of all, I feel obligated to mention how beautiful the cover of this book is. It’s by far one of my favorite covers.

I don’t think I have read a book about a secret society before (maybe I have and I can’t remember now), so it was really cool to read one now. I had no idea what to expect, how the society is/was formed, but it was pretty awesome. It made me want to be a part of one.

Story in general was pretty good. Book was fast paced even though it wasn’t exactly an easy read (I will get into that later).

I like the fact that the book had big letters, it was a nice change considering that the book I’ve read before TBMN was Kitty Hawk and that one had extra small letters.

Usually I like that things are proceeding quickly, so the story doesn’t get dull, but in this case, I believe that things were proceeding a bit too quickly. I think some scenes should be longer and more elaborate, instead those scenes felt rushed. For example, Cole’s fight with his friends.

Some of descriptions of seemingly important things were a bit confusing. This made for a harder read. For example, it took me too long to understand Sliders Games to properly enjoy it. Although, I do believe that this book needs to be read twice to understand everything. I think there were more hidden things to discover that can’t be seen at first read. I will let you know when I read it again.

I also think that most of the scenes lacked emotion. Because of that I also didn’t feel anything while reading through it – not grief, not fear, not happiness, … nothing.

I only partly managed to relate to characters. They weren’t written as good as they could have been and lacked depth, which made them hard to relate. Also, that could have been because of the rushed scenes.

Ending was nicely building up, but somehow the confrontation was a bit disappointing. I did, however, like the plot twist thanks to Sophie.

This book reminds me of Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. I can’t help but think that Karmanic Matter is similar to Dust. Golden Compass was hard for me to understand in first read, that’s why I believe that TBMN needs to be read again, which I will most definitely do in the near future or shortly before the release of the second book, because I can’t wait for it to come out.

Like I said, story in general was good and I would recommend it to you to pick it up.

THE BLUE MOON NARTHEX COMES OUT ON FEBRUARY 7TH! ORDER IT HERE.

 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Post written by Anya Blackhart-Clark

review · Uncategorized

Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

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SPOILER FREE (mostly, because I’m not quite sure what counts as a spoiler for some people, so I won’t say it is COMPLETELY spoiler free)

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!

We’ve got this book from an author in exchange for an honest review and that is exactly what I am going to write.

I don’t know what kind of formats of this book are out there, but the one we got was a bit bigger (kind of like Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard) and the words were very small (like in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon or in Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin) so at times it felt a lot like reading a newspaper. Even though I felt the need to mention that, I didn’t find it a bother, because paragraphs were very nicely constructed.

Considering that letters are small, I like the fact that there are a lot of chapters and that chapters were quite short. Somehow it made me feel more accomplished after I finished reading page after page, chapter after chapter. It was easier to continue reading on knowing that chapters are short. Not that they were bad, its just that sometimes, especially late at night, it’s easier to convince myself to read ‘just one more chapter’ if I know that chapters are short.

Kitty Hawk is a very likeable and easy to relate to type of character. She’s a teenage girl who planned her summer very carefully and even though there was ‘a shortage of money’, that didn’t stop her. She passionately petitioned for what she cared about and eventually got her wish. Her summer didn’t went exactly as she planned, but I am sure she wouldn’t change it for the world (if you have read the book, no pun intended – accidental nod to the epilogue).

The fact that four brothers were considered villains, that didn’t stop me from liking them. Their dynamic and organisation skills are out of this world. I usually don’t use this phrase nor do I like it, but in this case I think it’s only right to use it – they are #brothergoals.

I am very glad for the plot twist near the end because it made the book a lot better and exciting!

It was very interesting to read about the gold rush, and even more exciting when I learned that it was actually based on real life as much as it could be. Very educating and nicely described!

I don’t know whether it was the book or just me being in a weird book funk, but somehow this book took me longer to finish than I am willing to admit.

I don’t know why, but I would kind of compare this series to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series of books. Both are full of adventures and lovable characters.

To finish my review, it was an interesting and definitely one of a kind read. I would recommend it to young readers, especially fans of adventures and humpback whale lovers (you can learn many interesting things).

My Rating: 3.5/5

Post written by Anya Blackhart-Clark

review · Uncategorized

Review: The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

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SURFER SHARK TAMER FIRE WALKER EXPLORER TEENAGER HERO
Five Centuries Ago, On the Island Now Called Hawaii, There was a Kingdom Filled with Adventure, Beauty, and Magic.
When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano.
With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell.
Can peace be restored to the kingdom?
Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana?
ONLY ONE CAN RULE.

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We were sent this book in exchange for an honest review. I will try to keep it spoiler free.

Ailani was a great character. I felt he was easy to relate to, especially with all the sibling rivalry that was going on. He had a couple of insecurities, but I believe that makes it even better, especially when we follow him on his journey to overcome them.

Main character was likeable enough, although his brother was written as a bit too obvious sort of villain. Nahoa was the complete opposite of Ailani (I really like this name!).

However, I didn’t feel that the characters were real. I felt that the characters were missing some deepness and as much as the writer tried to get some sort of character development going on, he succeeded only partly.

On the other hand, story was so random, fresh and new to me that it kept me guessing until the very end. I had no idea what exactly the curse was, who was responsible for it and how to get rid of it. It was quite entertaining to be honest.

This book was quite interesting to read. If I didn’t have so much school work, I would probably have read it in one sitting. Story was enticing. It was simple, quick and enjoyable read. It was remarkably fast paced. At times made me thought that it was maybe a bit hastily written, because some scenes felt a little rushed.

The book mentioned so many places and islands, I can’t help but think that a map would be useful.

Also, the story was a bit confusing at times, making it hard for me to follow. But that could be because the writer used so many foreign words, which were explained, but made it a bit difficult to get into the story and paint its picture in my head, because I had to constantly scroll toward the end of the page and look for translation.

I also feel that the story didn’t have a real ending and I hope that a sequel is in the works as we speak, because I would like to know what journey lies ahead of Ailani, Momi, Puhi and even Nahoa.

I would especially recommend this book to younger readers, because overall it is an easy story to read and I believe they would enjoy it and possibly don’t even see its faults.

The greater the challenge, the bigger the reward.

My Rating: 3/5

Post written by Anya Blackhart-Clark

madeleine roux · review

Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm – formerly a psychiatric hospital.
As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here … secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past. Because it turn out Brookline was no ordinary psych ward. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.”

This book was a bit different from my usual reads, but still very entertaining. I liked the photographs which made the book more alluring. The structure of the text was good. It made you feel like you are a fast reader because you were sailing through the book with an ease. Format of the book was perfect – easy to hold, small enough to take with you anywhere and different, exciting to the touch.

The book sucked me in with the first chapter. Story began in the first chapter. Sometimes there are so called fill-in chapters to keep the story going, but I didn’t feel like this book had those chapters. With every chapter the book sucked me in deeper.

My favorite character was probably Abby. She had many so called mood swings, but she was still very cool and poised. She was braver than she seemed. I like a strong female character that is not depending on boys, but can get herself out of trouble if she needs to.

Characters at times didn’t feel real to me, but I still liked them well enough to continue. Characters didn’t really develop through the story, but I have high hopes they will through the next books.

Story kept me guessing through the whole book. I had to stop reading a couple of time to form a new theory in my head before continuing. From the very beginning I thought that I had the ending figured out, but it still managed to elude me and caught me by surprise. Story was good. Plot twists were more than satisfying.

My favorite parts of the book had to be the ones that happened in the old wing. I liked the mystery and kept on guessing what they are going to find, what secret they will uncover next. Scary scenes were written quite well for my taste.

The book didn’t make me laugh nor cry. It did, however, make me caught my breath for a sentence or two, before realizing what was going on.

Story had it’s claws deep inside me and I had no will to fight it. I kept on reading even though it was late. I kept saying one more chapter before I finally convinced myself that I will continue the book first thing in the morning, which I did. And I finished it in a heartbeat.

The ending was awesome. I don’t mind if an ending is a cliffhanger, when I have a sequel laying around. But sadly this was not the case here, so I was very frustrated.

At times I was angry at Dan, because he didn’t share his life story with Jordan or Abby … but hey, there are still two more books for him to do so.

I found the theme very interesting and compelling. I love watching horror movies and always wanted to read a horror book. Of course I was not as scared as I am when I watch the movies, but not because I wouldn’t like the story, but because there were no special effects and loud music. A contemporary story happening in an old, remodeled Asylum … I was so excited to start reading it!

I saw a lot of people didn’t like the story. Some didn’t even finish it. I think that is because before they started reading it, they created a little image (expectations) in their head of what the story will be and what will happen, and obviously when things didn’t happen that way and they got frustrated.

Yes, the story wasn’t very scary, but it was still good. They started reading it expecting to get scared as hell, but that didn’t happen. Books are not movies.

Honestly, I don’t know for sure why they didn’t like the book. I just know that I am not sorry for reading it and will be picking up the sequel in the near future.

If you decide to read this book, don’t have high expectations to begin with or don’t have any expectations at all. Let yourself be surprised by the book and it’s story. Read every book with low expectations or none at all and you won’t be disappointed (as much).

I heard a lot of people comparing this book to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, but honestly besides the picture, I don’t see any other similarities.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review by Anya Blackhart-Clark

Check out the book here.

review · sarah j. maas · Throne of Glass

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

SPOILER FREE (mostly, because I’m not quite sure what counts as a spoiler for some people, so I won’t say it is COMPLETELY spoiler free)

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

In my opinion, every new book from Throne of Glass series so far was better than the last. Before you start reading Empire of Storms, you must read The Assassin’s Blade. It is crucial to the story.

My favorite character this time wasn’t Celaena (from now on Aelin), but surprisingly it was Manon. Despite all of Aelin’s swagger and skill, I think she was a bit soft. Manon on the other hand was full of disdain for everything and everyone. Yes, she was a bit softer than in Queen of Shadows, but there was still something in her scenes that made me want to wish the chapter would never end. Her transformation into the  Crochan Queen and her transformation in behaviour toward our favorite characters was priceless. She was still mean, but she didn’t exactly mean it. She just had a reputation to uphold. Does that make sense?

Sarah J. Maas’ characters have an amazing development. You can see their struggle, feel their sorrow and cheer for their survival. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that at the end, Sarah will turn into George R. R. Martin and left us all weeping in the corner. Let’s hope that won’t happen, but still …

Aelin is not only Queen of Terrassen, Queen Who Was Promised, but she is also The Queen of deceit. Her secrets are so well guarded that not even her closest companions have a clue they even exist. Of course, her secrets are sooner or later – in this case later – revealed and they make for one hell of a plot twist which will make you gasp with excitement and probably fill your eyes with a couple of tears. Just remember how she managed to plan everything with Arobynn’s fortune without us suspecting anything.

I admire Sarah for connecting ALL books in this one. When you read some of the previous books, there were scenes that I didn’t deem important. Oh, boy, was I wrong. Everything is important. Everything matters. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Also, I like Sarah’s type of writing and the way she describes the scenes. It makes me feel like I’m there. I remember my sister (Desirae) once saying to me when I was writing, that I have to show, not tell a reader about a scene. That’s how Sarah writes her scenes. She shows, not tells. If you are a writer, you know that this is harder than it sounds.

The book sparked all kinds of emotions in me. Some scenes I was laughing, and other I was crying. Isn’t it amazing how one book can make you feel all those emotions – joy, sadness, anger, fear, … – I call that a masterpiece.

As usual, this is the type of story that grips you from page one and makes you keep turning the pages, until there is none left. I feel sorry for us lot, who have to wait a whole year for her next book. I still have hope that we will survive, even though it will be hard. Especially after the ending like that… I’m sure you feel me.

I would love to write more about the story and it’s characters, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. I am, however, more than happy to talk about the book, so feel free to leave a comment.

I don’t mind a cliffhanger ending, actually I think I like endings like that. But what I don’t like is when a book ends with a cliffhanger and I have to wait for so long before that issue can be resolved.

I know I kept praising Empire of Storms. I tried writing objective review, but what is a point in writing a review if I write it like a robot. Instead, I wrote it from a point of view of a reader and a fangirl. I love Throne of Glass series. It is one of my favorite series ever and it is a MUST HAVE book on a bookshelf. I love Sarah J. Maas and she is one of the authors whose book I buy without even checking what it is about.

I can’t help but compare this series a little to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Both series are very well thought through, both have a lot of cunning and scheming, both have war, love, friendship and more than I could possibly write without making this review too long. Let me know if you think those series could be compared.

All in all, the book was great… Even more than great, it was a true masterpiece. I have no problem understanding why it was one of the most expecting books this year.

My Rating: 5/5

Post written by Anya Blackhart-Clark

CHECK OUT THE BOOK HERE

John Green · review · Uncategorized

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

“19 Katherines and counting …
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a blood-thirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun – but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.”

An Abundance of Katherines had my full attention from the start. The story took some time to begin but because of the fast paced writing I didn’t even notice until the very end when you go through it in your mind. The whole book was well thought, intriguing and nicely written. I liked the structure of paragraphs – the perfect length to make it seem like your sailing through the book.

My favorite character was probably Lindsey Lee Wells. Even though she stated that she isn’t real, but is full of crap, she seemed the most real to me. She was never her true self, but took over different personality traits depending on the company she was with. Lindsey was a kind girl who was afraid to show her kindness because she was worried it would make her unpopular again.

I could identify with her character because she wasn’t whining all the time and when the time came, she stood up for herself even if it meant leaving the world she knew and loved behind. Don’t all of us want to be popular in high school? Wouldn’t we be willing to do just about anything to be one of the cool kids? Well, so did Lindsey. No matter who she became when she was with them, she still managed to remember her true self thanks to Colin and Hassan.

Colin was probably the only character that didn’t feel truly real to me. I had a problem identifying with him (probably because I’m no prodigy, but still) and it was difficult to care about him. I didn’t like his self-centered personality and his pathetic moping about Katherines. However, he did manage to win me over at the end and made me cheer for him. Even his anagramming grew on to me. I can’t help but think that this was John Green’s plan all along – for me to dislike him, just so I can get to like him and notice his character development.

Story itself wasn’t quite as interesting as its characters. It didn’t keep me guessing and I didn’t even really care about the town secret. But that didn’t really bother me, because as I said before, it was nicely constructed with interesting characters to lead me through.

The book made me laugh more than once, especially near the end. Story had it’s grip on me and made me turn the pages until I reached the end. I didn’t like the ending, although it was quite satisfying if not fulfilling. I will not lie, I would like to read what happened after.

I am not a big fan of math. Scratch that. I am not a fan of math.

The book was filled with graphs and calculations. At first it bothered me, because I thought I will have to concentrate really hard to get through it. Luckily, I was wrong. Colin did all the work and kept the calculations and explanations away from the story.

The thing that caught my attention were notes at the bottom of the book. At first I started reading them reluctantly because I thought it was math explanation or something like that, but I soon realized it was more than that. And funnier as well. Notes consisted Colin’s thoughts and interesting if maybe a little random real life facts. Notes helped us understand Colin and his way of thinking. It helped us understand how Colin decided which facts weren’t safe to say out loud.

After reading this book, you realize that things are never as simple as it seems or as you want them to be. The story contains a nice lesson. Even the Author’s note was unique and funny.

All in all, I really liked An Abundance of Katherines.

I would recommend this book to everyone who loves John Green.

Funny, young adult, contemprorary and road trip lovers, go read it!

My rating: 3.5/5

SPOILERS AHEAD!

A couple of sentences that caught my attention and made me think.

… one of his general policies in life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily be done lying down.”

I like this policy. From now on I will try to follow it as much as I can.

Prodigies can very quickly learn what other people have already figured out; geniuses discover that which no one has ever previously discovered. Prodigies learn, geniuses do.”

I never understood the difference between prodigies and geniuses but when you put it like that, it seems quite simple.

What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try something remarkable?”

I almost put down my book and went out doing something more “productive”, but soon abandoned the thought and returned to reading.

You can love someone so much, he thought. But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”

You never know what you have until it’s gone.

The reading quieted his brain a little.”

Yes, the reading does quiet your brain but only about your real life problems. Instead of thinking about your problems, you start solving his problems. But what’s the point in that if he doesn’t listen to your advice. Damn it, Colin, could you listen to me just once?

… there’s some people in this world who you can just love and love no matter what.”

Unconditional love…

A couple more (spoilery) thoughts on the book.

Yes, Colin’s love life was pathetic, but so is dating the girl when you are only 2 years old or even counting that as your first girlfriend.

Road trip was a great idea and reminded me of John Green’s other book Paper Towns.

I have to admit that I haven’t expected that Katherine The Great was Katherine (The End) XIX.

As it turns out, Colin had to get out of his home, out of his safe zone to learn about life and himself. He was blaming him for being washed-up child prodigy and was so obsessed with doing something with his life that he forgot to live. Being in Gutshot teached him more than any book could. Life is the greatest teacher of all.

He got into a fight (real fight, with actual punching and kicking), learned to shoot, drank booze, slept in stranger’s house and got over his heartbreak.

Hassan is the funny best friend character. He has a problems of his own, but we don’t get a lot of insight thanks to Colin’s self-centered personality. You can, however, put the pieces together, when Hassan delivers his big speech after he and Colin got into a fight.

Everyone wanted to matter. Some way or another. Even though Lindsey didn’t want to leave Gutshot, she still wanted to be known outside of it. She had different reasons for that as Colin, but wish remained the same – to matter.

Book review by Anya Blackhart-Clark

Check out the book here.