Posts Tagged: Magic

Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert Cargill

December 6, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 13 Comments

Book Review – Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows #1) by C. Robert CargillDreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
Series: Dreams and Shadows #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 26th 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Queen of the Dark Things, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories, Sea of Rust

four-half-stars

A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.

Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.

Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.

‘If you remember one thing, even above remembering me, remember that there is not a monster dreamt that hasn’t walked withing the soul of man.’

Dreams and Shadows tells the tale of two young boys: Ewan, who was stolen from his family by fairies when he was a baby, and Colby, who befriended a djinn that granted wishes which changed his life forever. The fates of both become entwined the second they meet and a battle between magical forces ensues.

This could have honestly been a disastrous affair what with the strange mixture of fairies and changelings, angels and the Devil, sorcerers and genies, and the list goes on. But it’s far from a disaster. This was an absolute delight and the exact type of fantasy that I yearn for. I have to make note that despite the inclusion of angels and the Devil this is far from religious and never digs in deep to that aspect; they were just supporting characters of a sort. The characters were fictitious and fanciful but managed to be extremely well-crafted and developed. The male characters were at the very least. It didn’t occur to me until later that the female characters all seemed to be incredibly weak and only described in terms of their looks with the one exception to that statement being Ewan’s scary-as-hell mother. All in all, it’s easy to overlook because of the thrilling plot.

My least favorite aspect of the book ended up being my favorite. In addition to the story being told from three separate points of view, there are excerpts from a book titled ‘A Chronicle of the Dreamfolk’ by a Dr. Thaddeus Ray, Ph.D. They are surprisingly informative pieces on the factual aspects of this fantasy world but it’s initially unclear as to why they’re included. It’s a vital piece of the puzzle that becomes clear late in the novel so don’t skip these sections.

Dreams and Shadows is a story full of magic and mystery and outlandish horror. I so enjoyed the rawness and twisted darkness of this tale and the unique and unusual world-building that fortunately isn’t lacking in detail. Dreams and Shadows possessed a plot with room to grow and is one instance where I’m thankful for it being a series. Queen of the Dark Things is the next installment which is due out in mid-2014. I cannot wait.

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Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuire

October 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 14 Comments

Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuireIndexing by Seanan McGuire
Published by 47North on May 21st 2013
Pages: 347
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, Night and Silence

two-half-stars

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Indexing was first released as a Kindle Serial and was a bi-weekly mini-party every Tuesday considering how eagerly I awaited the latest installment. The first episode is epic and I can’t even begin to express my love for it. The introduction to this fairy-tale world was perfection. It got a full 5 stars from me and set the bar extremely high for the subsequent stories. This fairy tale world was extremely similar in scope to the graphic novel series ‘Fables’ but in comparison I found the characters were more vibrant and witty and infinitely entertaining. Each Kindle serial, for the most part, managed as a stand-alone and didn’t leave you too exasperated with having to wait another two weeks for more. I say ‘for the most part’ because something happened around episode 8 (out of a total of 12) that took the series into a total nosedive, but I’ll get into that more in a minute.

The ATI (Aarne-Thompson Index) Management Bureau is a covert government agency that monitors fairy tale manifestations and prevents them from getting out of control. According to Wiki, “The Aarne–Thompson tale type index is a multivolume listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales, so that folklorists can organize, classify, and analyze the folktales they research.” This index system is used as the basis for classifying manifestations that happen in the real world, where children are born predisposed to being a Sleeping Beauty or a Snow White or even a Pied Piper. If unleashed, their fairy tale influence could wreak havoc on the world. All manner of fairy tales are covered: Peter Pans and Cinderellas, Donkeyskins and Beautiful Vassilisas, a Mother Goose, Wicked Stepsisters, Billy Goats Gruff, The Showmaker and the Elves, etc.

So what worked well? Personally I loved the combination of fairy tales and urban fantasy that ultimately made up this story. It was imaginative and creative and really enjoyed the details that went into this. Each individual was given a bit of back story although I believe this could have been further expounded on to showcase their growth. While I didn’t end up preferring one character over another, they all as a whole really added life and charm to this story.

In the end though, I was left ultimately disappointed. When thinking back on the story as a whole, I think it was easy to overlook the choppy feel of the writing since we’re only given bits and pieces at a time. If read as a whole I think it would have been far more obvious and apparent that the story lacked a fully fleshed out plot and was really rather feeble. It didn’t feel as if it was planned as a full novel and was instead planned out as each episode was written. Ultimately, the ending felt strange and disconnected from where it seemed like the story was going and left me with far more unanswered questions than I like.

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Early Review – Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell #3) by Jenn Bennett

May 23, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell #3) by Jenn BennettBinding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett
Series: Arcadia Bell #3
Published by Pocket Books on May 28th 2013
Pages: 366
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Banishing the Dark, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart

five-stars

In the third book in this beloved and “riveting” (Romantic Times) urban fantasy series, demon-friendly tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell discovers more about her own evolving, and possibly destructive, magical abilities when her bar is the target of a demonic crime wave.

Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is unhinging. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady's demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn't exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren't the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it's last call for life as she knows it.

Arcadia Bell Series

Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1)Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell, #2)Leashing the Tempest (Arcadia Bell, #2.5)

Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell #1) {Purchase}
Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell #2) {Purchase}
Leashing the Tempest (Arcadia Bell #2.5) {Purchase}

*No spoilers for any installments*

There are those kinds of Urban Fantasy worlds that are intricately built and detailed that you can completely envision and understand it. But then there are those kinds of worlds that are so easily envisioned that they are almost real. Sure there’s a demon realm and magicians and all sorts of other craziness going on but you could swear it’s really happening around you, Arcadia Bell’s world is just that vivid. It’s a world that manages to suck you in and make you a part of it all. That’s the kind of world that Jenn Bennett has crafted in her Arcadia Bell series.

In my experience, the longer a series goes on for the less likely I am to continue loving it. Characters get old, story lines feel reused… I just prefer stand-alones more often than not. Well, that theory gets completely blown out of the water when it comes to this series. This series has managed to get infinitely better with each new story, and Binding the Shadows is the best installment yet. The character growth continues building, the relationships continue to get stronger and more involved, and I can only sit back and marvel at the complexity of the story lines.

I was in complete awe by the last page. Jenn Bennett isn’t afraid to take the risk and inflict her characters with immense pain and suffering but I believe that risky chance paid off big. These characters may be fictional but they struggle despite their magical abilities and it manages to humanize them. Binding the Shadows leaves you with a jaw-dropper of an ending that will leave you desperately wanting ‘Crossing the Æthyr’. Urban Fantasy fans: read this series, it won’t fail to enthrall you.

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Early Review – Loki’s Wolves (Blackwell Pages #1) by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

April 27, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Middle Grade, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Loki’s Wolves (Blackwell Pages #1) by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. MarrLoki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr
Series: The Blackwell Pages #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on May 7th 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Norse Mythology
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Odin's Ravens

three-half-stars

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

Matt Thorsen has always had big shoes to fill considering his family are the descendants of the Norse god, Thor. When he has a dream of Ragnarok, the battle leading up to the end of the world, he doesn’t consider it being anything but a dream. Soon after, a town meeting is called and everyone is told that signs point to Ragnarok happening, and soon. When Matt is named champion he realizes he must seek out other descendant’s of the Gods if he has any hope of saving the world from destruction.

Regardless of the fact that this story closely resembles a Percy Jackson storyline and even Harry Potter at times, there are sufficient enough differences to make Loki’s Wolves stand apart.

First of all, I loved that the story wasn’t told solely through the POV of the ‘main character’, Matt the descendant of Thor. The POV was shared between the three main members of their team including Fen and Laurie, descendant’s of Loki. Each character was distinctive and well-written and it was enjoyable seeing the story from a set of different eyes.

Then there was also, of course, the difference that this book deals with Norse mythology. This was an exceptionally fun aspect for me considering I haven’t read too much relating to Norse mythology before so it was a bit of an educational experience for me.

This was an extremely fun and exciting thrill-ride of a novel; I enjoyed every minute of it. The ending was slightly abrupt, however, this is a trilogy and I do realize it had to end somewhere. There was a bit of a cliffhanger and no real resolution as their adventure is far from over. Highly recommended for adventurous Middle-Graders and Adults alike!

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Early Review – School Spirits (School Spirits #1) by Rachel Hawkins

April 26, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – School Spirits (School Spirits #1) by Rachel HawkinsSchool Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
Series: School Spirits #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 14th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Fantasy, Ghosties, Paranormal, Vampires
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

three-half-stars

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Izzy Brannick comes from a long line of monster hunters. Her family hunts them all for the Prodigium, the council that governs them all. The council that her cousin Sophie Mercer is in charge of. Izzy hasn’t been the same since her sister went missing on a job both of them were supposed to be working on. She blames herself since she was supposed to be with her but ended up letting her go off by herself. Add to that, she just screwed up her last solo job and her mom has given her a lame assignment. It involves a ghost. And a high school. Which she has to personally attend.

I was a bit undecided when I heard about this spin-off series but when I got my hands on it my love of Hex Hall that had lay dormant sudden came alive again and I had to read this immediately. And in a single day. Hex Hall fans will love this spin-off, I have no doubt.

Izzy is such a charming yet completely clueless girl when it comes to the normal lives of teenagers. She considers black a satisfactory color for her entire wardrobe and she lacks any sort of social skills considering she’s never been social and has never attended public school. So when she finds out she’s going to have to actually attend a high school in order to get the necessary information to bring down the ghost that’s currently haunting its halls, she’s at a loss on how to acclimate. She buys all the teen magazines and the goofy teen TV shows in order to ‘understand’ more and… suffice it to say, it’s hilarious.

Despite her lack of social skills, there still manages to be a completely adorable romance. Izzy and Dex are hilarious and awkward and it was completely endearing. It totally gave the warm fuzzies, I only wish it had gone on for more pages (this was an extremely quick read!) but fortunately this is the first in a new series so I look forward to seeing more Dex and Izzy time. Dex was definitely my favorite character with his peppy one-liners, but there were tons of characters to love in these pages. Torin, the 400-year old warlock currently trapped in Izzy’s bedroom mirror, was a runner-up favorite.

Despite my gushing, I wasn’t completely content with the ending. It wasn’t so off-putting that I won’t be continuing this series, but it’ll be interesting to see where the story leads.

School Spirits is a delightful paranormal series with an unforgettable set of characters. Fun and full of witty banter, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for some quick mystical entertainment.

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Audiobook Review – Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

March 26, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Narrator: Daniel Sharman
Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 19th 2013
Length: 16 hrs and 24 mins
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Steampunk
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: City of Fallen Angels

four-half-stars

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

The Infernal Devices series

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) {Purchase}
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) {Purchase}
‘Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one’s mind that the memory might be taken out later, like a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew.’

This was one of the most fantastic audiobooks I’ve listened to. Audiobooks are naturally so reliant on the perfect narrator that it could make a fantastic book a complete disaster. English actor Daniel Sharman was perfection with his various voice inflections for different characters. It certainly made the almost 16.5 hours of listening zoom by in a flash. Unfortunately. 🙂

It’s always difficult reading a series ender, there are always such high expectations. I can only imagine the strain on the author to come up with a satisfying ending, especially when there are ‘teams’ involved. For me, it could have gone either way because I was a fan of both boys. 🙂 On top of that you have to wrap up all the questions that were introduced throughout the previous books and give them their needed endings. Out of all the series I have finished though this is quite possibly one of the best wrap-ups I’ve read to date.

‘It was a near incomprehensible tangle, the three of them, but there was one certainty, and that there was no lack of love between them.’

I straight up despise love triangles, however, the reason behind that usually lies in the fact that the ‘love’ doesn’t make sense, seems unnecessarily dramatic and isn’t realistic in the least bit. This is one love triangle that is nothing like what I hate about them. Not unnecessarily dramatic, incredibly realistic, made me completely commiserate with Tessa instead of questioning how its possible that she love BOTH boys, and was a complete and utter heartbreak for everyone involved (including the reader). This managed to be so incredibly well-done throughout the story and was even given, as impossible as it may seem, a satisfying and understandable ending.

When I finally got to this epilogue that everyone kept talking about I was more anxious than anything. I can say that it was well done, that I almost cried and it was an ending I didn’t exactly see coming. I’m not sure if it was really vital to the story as a whole and if it would have been best to leave it out entirely but I can definitely see why it was included. This is likely where I’d go on a crazed spoilery rant, so anyone interested in hearing what I have to say, I’m up for a chat. 🙂

Various other things I loved about this story and series… I loved the beautiful literary quotes strewn throughout and even the characters obvious love for literature was wonderful to see. I also loved the lack of perfection and ‘happily ever afters’. Each character went through their own hard times and it made the characters really come to life. I believe the previous installments had equally beautiful writing with various quotes that left me breathless but it was so very evident to me in Clockwork Princess. I could have done Goodreads updates with beautiful lines every few pages. This was a truly beautifully written novel and a fantastic conclusion to an exceptional series.

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Short & Sweet – The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

March 15, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2013, Short & Sweet Reviews 4 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de LintThe Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on March 5th 2013
Pages: 304
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

The magic is all around you, if only you open your eyes....

Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills--until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now Lillian must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creatures--from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People--to find a way to make things right.

In this whimsical, original folktale written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl's journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one's own destiny

“Everything is a lesson if you’re willing to learn something from it.”

Twelve year old Lillian is an adventurous little girl who traverses the Tanglewood forest searching for fairies that she’s convinced exist. After she’s tragically bitten by a snake and dies, she hovers above her body long enough to witness the ring of cats that has surrounded her. Next thing she knows, she’s awake again and is now furry with paws. Seeking to find a way to rectify the situation, she seeks to change the past but in turn ends up living an even worse existence after her Aunt dies after being bitten by the snake instead.

“Maybe there’s a reason why the snake bit you, the cats changed you, and you’re no longer a girl. Maybe there’s something you can learn from being a cat instead of a girl.”

Tanglewood’s main lesson centers around how small choices can lead to surprisingly large consequences that you may not realize until it’s too late. Despite it’s fantasy elements, it still manages to be a lesson that can be understood and appreciated. Charles de Lint has crafted a perfectly charming folktale story and in addition to the enchanting art of Charles Vess this is one that children and adults both are sure to enjoy.

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Early Review – The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy #1) by Mindee Arnett

February 26, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy #1) by Mindee ArnettThe Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1
Published by Tor Teen on March 5th 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Nightmare Affair

three-half-stars

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Mare or Nightmare
noun
1. an evil spirit or goblin in Germanic folklore which rides on people’s chests while they sleep, bringing on bad dreams (or “nightmares”).

Dusty is a relatively normal 16 year-old girl, except for that whole “my mother is a Nightmare”. In the most literal sense. Literal meaning she’s a mythical creature that feeds on what dreams are made of. One night while Dusty is doing just that, she finds herself in a dream depicting a murder of one of her classmates that is vivid enough to leave her shaken. She returns to her school that night only to find out that that was no ordinary dream, she had just witnessed a real murder.

Nightmares aren’t the only mythical creature in this vibrant and imaginative world Mindee has created. Dusty attends Arkwell Academy along with other magical beings such as warlocks, witches, vampires, sirens, mermaids, demons, and of course, nightmares. The purpose of the Academy is to teach all magical creatures how to function and live in this world undetected. Considering there was so much to this world, there was a lot of information to be explained in detail for the reader and it was a bit of an information overload in the beginning. There was one particular aspect of this world regarding what was called ‘The Will’ which was a powerful magic that essentially acted as a ‘Big Brother’ and kept individuals from using their magic to harm. It played a huge part of the story as a whole but wasn’t explained as easily as it could have been and I was left with unanswered questions regarding its functionality.

I dislike comparing books with out another because there is so little these days that is truly original. Some facet of every story has more than likely already been done time and time again, the part that becomes most important is how that author takes that used idea and molds and transforms it into something uniquely theirs. I could go on and on about how much the setting reminded me of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins with its supernatural school with various different magical beings. How the main character who is quirky and funny yet ultimately an outcast. How her enemies are the beautiful popular girls and even the parental setup is similar with her mother being estranged and her father being non-magical (just the other way around in HH). I could even go so far as to compare the seriousness and intensity of the mystery to a Dan Brown novel and the magical battles and ending worthy of a Harry Potter book. I could likely do this form of comparison with all my book reviews.

The point in all this, despite these comparisons that danced through my head while reading, is I loved those bits that were truly unique and given the authors special touch. Using a ‘Nightmare’ as a supernatural being was genius and I loved it. I also loved how she took a supernatural story and added a medieval twist (two things that I would normally never put together in my head) and really made it work for me. I’d like to see some stronger character development in future installments and please, please, make that completely unnecessary love triangle go away. This book is one Nightmare you mind experiencing. Recommended for supernatural mystery fans looking for a bit of a twist.

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Early Review – Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian #5) by Diana Rowland

December 15, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian #5) by Diana RowlandTouch of the Demon by Diana Rowland
Series: Kara Gillian #5
on December 31st 2012
Pages: 440
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Life As a White Trash Zombie, Mark of the Demon, Blood of the Demon

four-half-stars

Kara Gillian is in some seriously deep trouble.

She’s used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now the tables have been turned and she’s the one who’s been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of yet another demonic lord, but she quickly discovers that she’s far more than a mere hostage. Yet waiting for rescue has never been her style, and Kara has no intention of being a pawn in someone else’s game.

There’s intrigue to spare as she digs into the origin of the demonic lords and discovers the machinations of humans and demons alike. Kara is shocked to discover that she has her own history in the demon realm, and that the ties between her and the demonic lords Rhyzkahl and Szerain go back farther than she could have ever imagined. But treachery runs rampant among all the lords, and she’s going to have to stay sharp in order to keep from being used to further their own agendas. The lords have a secret that dates back to earth’s ancient history, and it could have devastating repercussions for both worlds.

Yet more than anything else, Kara’s abilities as a homicide detective will be put to the test—because this time the murder she has to solve is her own.

Kara Gillian series

Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #1) {Purchase – My Review}
Blood of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #2) {Purchase – My Review}
Secrets of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #3) {Purchase – My Review}
Sins of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #4) {Purchase – My Review}

Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian series has been a favorite of mine from the very beginning, but with ‘Touch of the Demon’ she’s truly taken this series to a whole new level and as Kara is so fond of saying, “Shit just got real.” ‘Touch of the Demon’ truly mixed things up and allowed this series to remain outstanding for many more installments.

Touch of the Demon picks up right where the last one left off with that dreaded cliffhanger that I think had us all pulling our hair out. Kara finds herself in the demon realm and she’s being held against her will by the demonic Lord Mzatal. Unclear as to why he’s keeping her but positive that it’s not for anything good she finally manages to escape and get to Rhyzkahl but she finds herself in any even worse situation. It’s a complex story that has Kara spinning in confusion trying to figure out how to get out of this situation and finally get home, to Earth.

The best part of this story was the imagery Diana created. Her depictions of the demon realm were meticulous allowing you to visualize it completely. From details of the palaces she stayed in to the trees to the various different demons that she had never encountered before. Each additional detail really added something distinctive to making this story highly creative. There are so much more that could be said but there were so many intricate aspects to this story-line that each detail is essentially a part of the spoiler… and I would hate to ruin this for anyone. If you’ve been a fan of this series though, you will definitely love this one.

Touch of the Demon is hands down the darkest, grittiest installment yet, and it was absolutely fantastic. The cliffhanger lacking ending was music to my ears and still managed to set in motion potentially awesome storylines. I can’t wait to see where Diana Rowland takes us next on this brilliant endeavor!

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Early Review – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

October 1, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. ValenteThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Series: Fairyland #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 2nd 2012
Pages: 258
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

four-half-stars

“One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland series

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

Fairyland series

Hardly a day has passed since September hasn’t thought about Fairyland and Ell and Saturday and the Green Wind. Sometimes she even wonders whether she imagined the whole thing, but it was all so very real because September’s shadow is gone; she left it behind in Fairyland. But she’s thirteen now, and so much time has passed and she begins to think she’ll never make her way back, until one day she sees a rowboat floating across the fields behind her house. She knew this was her opportunity and hastened to follow them to wherever they were going. Upon her return, she realizes that Fairyland is quite different from when she left it several months ago and that September is not the only one missing her shadow now.

“…your light side isn’t a perfectly pretty picture, either, I promise you. You couldn’t dream without the dark. You couldn’t rest… You need your dark side, because without it, you’re half gone.”

September was once again an incredible character: full of heart, strength, and loyalty. Realizing that the problems in Fairyland stemmed from her actions from her previous visit, she didn’t hesitate for a second before starting her adventure to make things right. I loved the implications of the purpose of shadows and how their importance reaches far beyond their physical presence. Very mature topics that I see as being a fantastic ‘learning opportunity’ for children during a potential read-along with their parents. The writing is not just full of beautiful prose but manages to also have substantial meaning behind every word.

‘She did not know yet how sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts… all of those brave and wild and cunning and marvelous and beautiful parts they hid away and left in the dark to grow strange mushrooms–and yes, sometimes those wicked and unkind parts, too–end up in their shadow.’

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland was wonderful, original, and full of incredible prose and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland doesn’t disappoint. If anything, the second installment is even more brilliant. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland will be well received by children but I so love that it’s equally (if not more so) able to be enjoyed by adults. Catherynne M. Valente has definitely done it again; full of adventure mixed with a new take on old-world fairytales.

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