Scion of the Fox | Review

Greetings readers!

There are certain things I wish for in my bookish dreams. Some of them are more easily fulfilled and others have yet to be fulfilled or I have to scavenge really hard to find them. They exist, but not in a large amount. Books, specifically YA, never take place in or have characters from El Salvador (id est. Rendz’s family’s place of origin). I may be wrong, though I doubt it. So that’s a dream still not fulfilled, but perhaps someday.

Now YA set in Canada is another dream. It’s a lot easier to find books set in Canada/with Canadian characters! There are lists on Goodreads that I can scroll down and so on!

So pretty much all books set in Canada get put into my TBR, no questions asked. This was one of those books, so when I saw it on NetGalley you I snatched it up fast!

Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)

via Goodreads

As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds — all because one girl couldn’t stay dead . . .

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

*My deepest gratitude to the publisher for providing me with a copy! This does not affect my opinions!*

Well this was definitely an interesting read no doubt. It was a little bit of a roller coaster ride in terms of how I felt about it at times while reading, but overall it was a pretty fun read! With an added bonus that it’s set in Canada!

What I Liked

Characters

Roan: Our lovely chosen one. (As she so warmly names herself) Um…I actually have some mixed feelings about her. She was a very entertaining character to follow. She definitely wasn’t the perfect hero! She felt like giving up multiple times (she almost did), but like the good heroine she is, she pulled through. She made not so intelligent decisions, some of them more mind-boggling than others (more on that later). I wouldn’t label her as my fave character, but she was alright.

Sil: Sil was an interesting character to follow! She was the not fairy god mother but still the wise figure in Roans adventure. Wise and very sassy. I really enjoyed her banter with Roan as it made the book a whole lot more entertaining.

Eli: Very interesting. Very troublesome. Not exactly a villain but definitely possesses some evilish qualities. Not exactly the most romantic hero for Roan either (like they have issues)….but unless I read into it wrong he’s feeling something! (There wasn’t any romance in the book, I’m just pointing out from observation!)

Other characters…Roan had a great cast of friends by her side. Phae, Barton, Natti and more who helped her survive her journey. There were secondary characters that were less likeable, but that I liked to hate so I had fun following them too.

Setting: Le duh! Set in Canada, specifically Winnipeg (a city I be never actually visited…I haven’t visited a lot of Canada FYI) The story takes places during the winter so the atmosphere really contrasts with Roan and makes her stand out! Where she burns bright with fire her surroundings are very cold, ominous and chilling. And then as the story melts into spring, her fire gets more intense and the big show down happens.

Magic System: While I liked it, it was also kind of hard to wrap my head around. I liked the use of the elements and the Ancient system that passed down their powers from generation to generation. It was classic so I enjoyed it. What stumped me were the animal familiars. I didn’t have a problem with the Owls, Fox, Seal or Deer….what stumped me was the Rabbit, representative of the earth element. It was just funny to imagine because I see earth as a strong and fortifying element but envisioning cute little bunnies kind of threw me off (and it didn’t help that the people descending from this line looked jittery and scared). I don’t know, it just didn’t work for me. Otherwise, I really like the Magic and its ties to humanity and the villain.

What I Disliked

Predictive: I saw a few things from a mile away, that were really no surprises or shocking revelations. I felt that the intensity of the novel was low, there weren’t any really OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG moments, but it wasn’t completely flat either. I think this was a little juvenile for me despite some of the more mature themes.

Trope Talking: This book had some tropes in which I was like, whatever *shrug* But then the author goes and makes fun of the tropes within the book…in which I was like okay….? The obvious one is the Chosen One trope, ie Roan. She actually poked fun and makes jokes about being the Chosen one….and continues to do so throughout the story. It was funny at first, but then it gets annoying so I really could have done without it. The author does this with a few other tropes too: the white saviour w/ a diverse side cast and the old wise person, dead parents are some examples. It’s kind of like saying “these tropes kind of suck, but I’m going to use them anyways!”

Roan’s Idiot Mistake, for being an Idiot Chosen One: I read about 400 pages of Roan trying to stop Eli from being evil. She helps him get through some intense struggle and y’all, they pull through. And then in the final chapter, she made the same damn choices as evil-Eli so now she is at risk of becoming evil! Was she not present for the earlier chapters of the book??? Did she not realize the consequences of her decision??? Apparently this book is a cycle, and we are going to get right back where we started.


Overall, I did enjoy most of the book. It was fun and magical. A little flat in some areas, but it was a solid read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: I think this would work well with younger YA readers

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite tropes? What are some of your least?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Beautiful Ones | Review

Greetings readers!

Confession: I am a hopeless romantic.

Like, as hopeless as they can possibly get. I’m not into the cheesiest of the cheese, but sometimes cheese is delicious and heartwarming and just awwwww.

Hence, why my Book Boyfriend list is loooooooooonnng.

So every once in a while, I might pick up a romance novel, just for the feels. This one ended up being an (alternative) history with the beauty of romance intertwined! This book, ladies and gents, this book was it!!!!!!

From just reading the synopsis I was like “Yes, yes……oh yes!”. Then I got denied on Netgalley and it’s like:

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via giphy.com

And then the lovely author asks for some diverse bloggers to give out some reviews, and I’m like:

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via giphy.com

And then I read the book and just…just…just……………………

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via giphy.com

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones

via Goodreads

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.

The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.

*Thank you to the author and publisher for providing me with an advanced digital copy–this in no way influences my opinion!*

I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Going in all I really knew was that this novel was about manners, telekinesis and romance. Well telekinesis is like magic, so Rendz is instantly pulled in and as aforementioned, I am a hopeless romantic so I was ready to ship!ship!ship! The manners bit is was really had me going “hmmm”…because I didn’t know what would become of this. In short, I loved it. I loved this book, I read the ending twice and I’m tempted to go read it again because my heart! It was fun, deceptive, quirky and swoon-activating.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Nina: She was basically the oddball of high society, the country girl in fancy clothes who doesn’t know the manners of a proper young elite. I absolutely adored her. She was funny, quirky, a little naive and a hopeless romantic like myself. None of those make her a fool, but people seem to only see her as one. She has interesting telekinetic powers that have always made her the misfit of the group, but that’s what made her exciting and troublesome. She grows immensely in a single story and reading about her journey and struggles gave me all the feels!

Hector: Hmm…I had a bumpy relationship with him in this book. I never truly hated him, I just hated what he was doing! Still, he was the tortured, romantic heartthrob that was trying to exact revenge and failing to do so. He was stubborn and passionate which sometimes held him back…by maybe like a decade. “Gentlemen” is basically the best characteristic you could describe him (and he would want you too) as he had transformed himself from a little circus orphan to a true high class performer!

Valérie: I loved to hate her. I will be honest, back in the first couple chapters of the book, I admired her. She sacrificed a lot for herself and her family, she didn’t exactly have the happiest life……but that’s about where I stopped liking her. She was a total bitch. Like being a cold hearted bitch can sometimes be cool, but when you try to destroy the personal lives of others, inflict emotional pain and blackmail them into it for your own personal gain…now that is just being a bitch. While I pitied her to the end….my petty side was actually happy she got what she deserved.

Telekinesis: This is some next level Matilda works guys. Garcia explored the power in Hector and Nina and how it sets them apart, makes them the same and what it means for their future.  I thought it added an extra pizzazz to the novel that would have been just a regular romance, this made it different and interesting.

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via giphy.com

To be Different: The society that the characters live in is very posh. Very strict on what is in and what is out. If you don’t act classy, you are trash. If you say the wrong thing or are seen with the wrong person at the wrong time, labels spring up and you are ruined. Garcia explores what it is like to be different in this society. In Hector we see someone who wasn’t rich from birth, who makes his living as a performer and has no name to speak of. He climbed his way to the top to be seen a gentleman, but is it enough? In Nina we have a girl born with all the money, the famous name and yet she can’t handle the cutthroat expectations society has put on her, but does she really care? And then there is Valérie, the epitome of everything society expects and wants to see in a glamorous woman, but does she really have it all?

It’s a very intriguing theme and adds to my favourite thing…

Drama: I read this book in public guys. And when reading in public you try not to show too many emotions, but I’m telling you when I was getting to the more juicy bits I would be taking crazy intakes of breath, my eyes probably looked wild and while I wanted to smash my phone or just proclaim all my feels I stayed cool.*

*kind of

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via giphy.com

Suffice to say, I liked the drama, the scandals and the blackmailing bits that just made me want to roar on the bus.

Romance: It’s a romance novel of course it’s going to appear in the review. As one of the most important elements of the novel I really liked how it was handled. It shows the repercussions of falling in love young and quickly, the pain and struggle it can cause when things don’t go according to plan and the slow healing process of opening up to possibility again and letting it just flow. Feeling love without need to control it. And the ship guys………heart eyes all around.

The Ending: As I said, I read it twice and I’m tempted to read it again. The final five or six chapters are just so full of feeeeeellllssssss. Things go right/wrong/WRONG/right. It’s just a roller coaster and I adored it! After finishing the book in the afternoon, I dived back into those five chapters that same night to highlight and bookmark all my favourite ship moments!

What I Disliked:

There isn’t really anything…I guess I could say a little predictable throughout the first half of the book. The second part wasn’t really, though as you read on you might get some theories and figure some stuff out. But definitely not all!


Overall, I really liked this book. Look at me, reaching into genres that are not fantasy *proud of self* I wish there would be a sequel (or maybe just an extension of that great ending) but Garcia isn’t really a sequel kind of person. So I’ll just have to stick with this solid standalone! I’ll definitely be diving into more of this authors works!

Rating: 5 / 5 stars! (Even if the predictability mathematically takes off 0.25, emotionally it gets all the stars!)

Recommend: YEESS, if you’re looking for an adult romance that’s maybe not that intense but still has all the feels, try this!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What’s your favourite romance novel? How do you keep all your feels in when you’re in public?


Some Fun Info!

Praise for THE BEAUTIFUL ONES:

“Moreno-Garcia (Certain Dark Things) fills her fantastic novel of manners with sumptuous language and plausible romantic complications in a setting that appears to be based on 19th-century France and is lightly garnished with minor magic…Readers who enjoyed Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories magical Regency series will be particularly enthralled by the genuine emotions evoked in the course of the unsustainable love triangle.”

—Publishers Weekly

“The telekinesis…adds a fantastical spin to a story that would otherwise be a great fit for fans of the 18th-century French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The talented author of Certain Dark Things and Signal to Noise returns with a novel that is light on fantasy but overflowing with delicious melodrama.”

Library Journal

“This elegant tale of hidden desires and misplaced amour will appeal to fans of historical fantasy.”

—Booklist

“Truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. This sweeping tale of love lost and found is told with old-world elegance, grace and just the right touch of magic.”

—M.J. Rose New York Times bestselling author

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia_CREDIT Martin Dee 2017 (1)

About the author:

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA is the critically-acclaimed author of the novels Signal to Noise – winner of a Copper Cylinder Award, finalist of the British Fantasy, Locus, Sunburst, and Aurora awards – and Certain Dark Things, which was selected as one of NPR’s best books of 2016. She won a World Fantasy Award for her work as an editor and lives in Canada.


This book comes out today! So head to your nearest bookstore or library to check it out! Not feeling up for the walk? How about entering this giveaway to win the finished copy and a necklace!

Enter here!

(*Giveaway is hosted by the author, I’m just letting y’all know about it because hello..Free Book! US/CAN only*)

And because you are getting even luckier………

HERE IS A SNEAK PEAK AT CHAPTER ONE!!

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Hector was like a castaway who had washed up on a room of velvet curtains and marble floors. The revelers might as well have been wild animals ready to tear off a chunk of his flesh.

He felt utterly lost, alien and alone.

As Hector watched from a corner of the room, ladies and gentlemen partnered to dance, women fanned themselves and smiled, and men greeted each other with a tilt of the head.

He had attended many glittering balls, but none in this city. He knew no one here except for Étienne and Luc, and he was waiting with breathless expectation for the arrival of Valérie Beaulieu.

The first thing he’d done upon disembarking was to make discreet inquiries about the whereabouts of the lady. He was glad to discover she was in Loisail and, moreover, that she would be at the ball thrown by the De Villiers. He had no direct connection to the De Villiers—or hardly anyone else in Loisail, for that matter, having spent the past ten years abroad—but he did know Étienne Lémy, who was able to secure him an invitation.

Hector had dressed according to the weight of the occasion in a new double-breasted black dress coat, white shirt, and a white bow tie. White gloves and mother-of-pearl studs completed the ensemble. In his excitement, he arrived unfashionably early, not wishing to miss Valérie, and after greeting his host had positioned himself strategically so that he could watch every elegant guest who entered the vast ballroom. But Hector had not been long at his post when he heard a couple of ladies commenting that Mrs. Beaulieu had been taken ill and would not be in attendance, which came as a shock to the women since Valérie Beaulieu’s missing the opening of the season seemed unthinkable.

All his plans in tatters, the whole reason for his attendance at the ball suddenly vanishing, Hector did not know what to do with himself. Unable to stand the music and the noise, he escaped to the library, which was gloriously empty, its furniture decorated with a profusion of brass inlays, the bookcases primly protected with glass doors. The only reasonable course of action at this point was to wait there until he could perform a proper exit without seeming rude. He could not possibly retire until nine o’clock.

Hector consulted his watch, and after deliberating, he decided he’d brush up on his history. He wound up flipping through the pages of a book without touching them, having dragged a chair closer to him with a motion of his left hand, his talent at work. He did not read a single line, too troubled by thoughts of Valérie Beaulieu to make heads or tails of the words.

When they last saw each other, they’d both been nineteen, nothing but children, really. But he’d loved her. She had been beautiful, sophisticated, captivating. A perverse part of him hoped that time had somewhat washed away the colors from her face, but in his heart he knew this was impossible and that Valérie Beaulieu must remain as he remembered her: the most devastating woman in the room.

And he would not be seeing her that night.

The clock on the wall struck nine and the door opened. In walked a young woman in a blue pastel silk and velvet dress with appliquéd flowers along the bodice and skirt, the sleeves rather puffed out, as was in vogue.

She closed the door, taking several steps into the room before she raised her head and caught sight of him. “Sir,” she said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there was anybody here.”

“It’s no matter,” he replied, closing the book with his hands rather than with his mind; he reserved displays of his talent for the stage. He did not add anything else. He was hardly in the mood for polite conversation. The De Villiers prided themselves on attracting the cream of the crop to their functions—the Beautiful Ones, rather than the New People. The barons of barely minted empires of telegraph wires and fresh steel could socialize elsewhere. Hector had been offered an invitation, proof of Étienne’s charm and his connections, but he knew he was, at best, a novelty for these aristocrats; at worst, an intruder. He did not wish to befriend any of them and threw the young woman a frosty look. The girl did not take his cue.

She looked at him carefully, her lips curving into a smile as she moved closer. “I know you. You are Hector Auvray.”

“Pardon me, were we introduced?” he asked, frowning. He was sure he had not seen this girl before. He had been presented to the hosts, and Étienne had pointed out a few people, but not her.

“I recognize your face from the posters around town. You are performing at the Royal. Phantasmagoric: Feats of Wonder, isn’t it? I was hoping to meet you,” she said.

“Oh?” he replied, a noncommittal sound, even if his interest had been piqued. Few aristocrats would admit to knowing the name of a vulgar entertainer. Instead, they nodded their heads politely and either assumed or pretended he was a slightly more elevated type of person.

“What were you reading?” she asked, pointing at the book he was clutching between his hands.

“History. Miss—”

“Nina,” she said, stretching out her hand. “Antonina, really, but I rather hate it. I’m named after a witch of a great-aunt, the most awful wretch who ever lived. Well, not quite, but I resent the association, and therefore it is Nina.”

“Hector, though you already know that part.” He shook her hand. “It’s probably best if we exit this room now. A bachelor such as myself, a young lady such as yourself—we wouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”

Truly, he wanted only to get rid of her and could not have cared what anyone thought. If the girl wished to walk around the house without an escort, then let it be. He had come to speak to one woman and one woman alone. If she was not there, then Hector would wallow in his velvet misery.

“I can’t possibly leave now,” she replied.

“Why not?” he asked, annoyed.

She did not notice his tone of voice or did not care. Instead, she took off the dance card dangling by her wrist and held it up for him to look at.

“If I go out there now, Didier Dompierre is going to ask me for a dance, and if you’d ever danced with Didier, you would know he is the most terrible dancer. I have been told he’ll put his name down for two dances, and you must be aware a lady cannot refuse a dance from a gentleman. It would be uncivil.”

Hector did not understand why a man might want to corral this particular girl for two dances in a row. She was not an enviable beauty— somewhat run-of-the-mill, to be frank—and her square jaw, black hair, and thin lips were rather unstylish. She possessed eyes of a pretty shade of hazel, though, and her dress was very fine; perhaps that was enough for a young chap with poor dance skills such as this Didier Dompierre.

“Then your thought is to spend the rest of the evening here, avoiding him?”

“Not the rest of the evening, but, say, a half an hour, and by then he will have found some other girl he can stomp on,” she replied, sitting in the chair in front of him and stretching her legs.

“This does not seem the best-conceived plan.”

“It is a plan, which is what matters. Whom are you hiding from?” she asked. If she were another woman, this might have been mistaken for an attempt at flirting. Valérie would have taken the opportunity to lace her voice with honey, but the girl was plain and spoke plainly.

“I am not hiding from anyone,” he said.

“Do you make it a habit to go to balls, then, and creep into the library to brush up on your history?”

“Do you talk to all men in this manner?” he replied, growing more curious than irritated.

She toyed with her dance card, putting it again on her wrist, and gave him a mortified look. “I apologize. This is only the second dance I’ve attended, and I can see it will end catastrophically already.”

“This is the second party of the De Villiers’ you’ve attended?” he asked.

“The second party in the city I’ve ever attended, and this is the beginning of the Grand Season, the true test of a lady’s mettle. You must not think me a complete fool. I went to a couple of dances in Montipouret, but it was different. Small affairs. Loisail is large and there are many people and the rules are different.”

He was talking to a country girl, for clearly the designation of “woman” would have been misplaced on her. Worse than that, a country rube. But Hector could not help but feel more sympathy than distaste. He had, after all, been a country nothing at one time and less polished than this girl.

He smiled despite himself, to assuage her. “No doubt you’ll learn them soon. You seem quick-witted.”

“Thank you,” she replied, appearing rather pleased with his words.

She looked at him curiously and another smile crossed her face. “I must confess, I know more about you than your name from looking at the posters. I read about you in TheGazette for Physical Research. Alexander Nicolay has been investigating your telekinetic abilities.”

“Are you a fan of TheGazette?” he asked, surprised that she’d be informed about Nicolay’s research. He’d bumped into the man a couple of years back. He was attempting to measure and classify all psychokinetic talents and convinced Hector to let him take his pulse while he manipulated objects with the force of his mind. It was the sort of thing people did not think to bring up in casual conversation.

“Not particularly. But I am interested in the phenomena. They say you are one of the great psychokinetics of our era.”

“I’m a decent performer,” he replied.

“Modest, too.”

She was a curious girl, and now he reassessed her again. Not an aristocrat and not a country rube and—what exactly? He didn’t like it when he couldn’t classify people.

He gestured toward the door. “Shall I escort you to the ballroom?”

She looked down at her dance card, carefully running her fingers around its edge. “Yes. If you feel inclined, you might partner with me for a dance. I would be really thankful. I was not exaggerating when I said Didier Dompierre is the worst dancer you’ve ever seen. Is that a terrible request? It’s not, is it?”

He was somewhat amused by the question and her tone of voice, and though the girl’s nervous energy at first did not sit too well with him, he had to admit he felt a bit relieved by her intrusion. He was full to bursting with thoughts of Valérie and could do with a few minutes more of light chatter. It would also satisfy the practical necessity of actually showing himself at the ball, which he ought to do at one point. He could not spend every single minute in the library. He could wallow later, in the privacy of his apartment.

“One dance.”

She took his arm before he offered it to her as they exited the library, which was presumptuous.

The owners of the house had placed mirrors on the walls of the corridor that led to the ballroom, an ostentatious touch, but this was a new trend that was sweeping the capital and soon the nation. Whatever took the fancy of Loisail would take the fancy of the whole of Levrene; this was a known fact.

The ballroom was huge, with tall gilded mirrors reflecting the attendees, magnifying the space: the party seemed to go on forever. Above them hung monstrous chandeliers that sparkled with all their might, and all around them there were ladies with their shoulders bare, in their fine silks, while the gentlemen stood sober and proud, creating a glorious rainbow of colors, from the restrained browns of the matriarchs to the pale pinks of the unmarried women.

Hector carefully took hold of Antonina’s hand and they joined the dance. He did not consider himself an excellent dancer, though he could manage. His partner fared poorly, but gave the feeling of being entertained.

“Do you know Loisail well, Mr. Auvray? Or is this your first time here? It wouldn’t be, would it?”

“I don’t know it well, no. I’ve spent only a few days in Loisail before my move here.”

“How do you find it? Is it different from the cities where you’ve lived?” she asked.

He thought of the myriad countries and stages where he’d toured. To be back in his country of birth, in Levrene, was to be back home, though not due to a quirk of geography but because this was where Valérie resided. Here, in Loisail, even if she was hidden away at this moment. She existed and colored the city for him, lit it brighter than the elegant iron lampposts.

“Interesting. I have yet to form a strong opinion of it,” he said politely.

“Then you intend to remain for a while?”

“I will be performing for a few months here, yes. As to whether I intend to make it my permanent base of operations, we shall see. And you?”

He did not expect her to launch into a complete and honest answer. A touch of coquetry, the outline of a smile, those would have been suitable. This had been Valérie’s way.

The girl clutched his hand excitedly. “I’ll most definitely be here until the summer. I am spending all of the spring with my cousin. My mother thinks a time in the city would do me good. Where are you lodging? My cousin’s house is in Saint Illare.”

“I think you’ve asked another bold question,” he informed her.

“Is it, really?”

Her words were candid and he found himself amused by the naivety. Rather than schooling her with a scowl and a clipped yes, which normally suited him magnificently, he gave her a proper answer.

“To the east. Boniface. Not as smart as your cousin’s house, I would wager,” he said.

“Boniface. Is that so you can remain near the theater?”

“Indeed.”

“I’m sure it’s smart enough. Boniface.”

As the dance ended, a young man moved in their direction, his eyes on Antonina. Hector was going to incline his head and release the girl, but on contemplating the look of pure panic that crossed her face, he did his best to suppress a chuckle and instead asked her for a second dance. She accepted and told him the man who had been moving toward them was poor Didier. In the end, he danced a total of three dances with Nina, but since two of the three were lively stevkas, they did not speak more than a few words.

After he had thanked her for the dances and strolled away, Étienne Lémy and his little brother, Luc, wandered over. Étienne was Hector’s age and Luc a handful of years younger, though looking at them, people always swore they were twins, so alike were they, both possessing the same blond hair and stylish mustache. They furthered the illusion that evening by wearing matching gray vests.

“There you are, you devil. I couldn’t find you anywhere,” Étienne said, clasping his shoulder. “For a moment I thought you’d left.”

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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All the Wind in the World | Review

Greetings readers!

One morning, I woke up to a lovely email from Netgalley that said my first wish had been granted. I had a mini-celebration with myself because luck had finally struck me! It was a rather groggy celebration since I had just woken up and I might have curled back to sleep afterwards, but still it was a momentous occasion for me. I was really looking forward to this one because it is written by a Latina author and it has elements of magical realism which I don’t get quite often!

All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

All the Wind in the World

via Goodreads

Sarah Jacqueline Crow and James Holt work in the vast maguey fields that span the bone-dry Southwest, a thirsty, infinite land that is both seductive and fearsome. In this rough, transient landscape, Sarah Jac and James have fallen in love. They’re tough and brave, and they have big dreams. Soon they will save up enough money to go east. But until then, they keep their heads down, their muscles tensed, and above all, their love secret.

When a horrible accident forces Sarah Jac and James to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch called the Real Marvelous, the delicate balance they’ve found begins to give way. And James and Sarah Jac will have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.

*I was provided a free digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher!*

Just look at that cover! *Swoons.*  It’s absolutely gorgeous and the colours and silhouettes totally encompass this book perfectly. But I’m not here to solely critique the cover and as much as I want to say that the cover and the story go hand in hand as one blend of total epicness…I can’t. This book was good, don’t get me wrong, it just lacked that final oomph. It fell flat to me in some areas, but there was never a moment where I didn’t want to continue reading. It’s kind of complicated, me and this book.

What I Liked

Characters:

Sarah Jac: Okay, Sarah Jac and I have a bit of a bumpy relationship. On one hand I’m like “Yes, go girl! You do you. It’s a game of survival be prepared for anything!” On the other hand I’m like “No stop. You’re being stupid. No. No. Please, stop. Think girl. Think!” She was a very complicated gal, in a very complicated situation. She had to act tough, be ruthless, think about no one but herself and James, but having hard hearts leads to big trouble in many ways as having a soft heart does. She wasn’t exactly the most “likeable” character but she was and interesting one at that!

James: Well..I liked him in the first half of the novel. He seemed like the endless flirt who just wanted everyone to feel good. To be even just a little content in time of hardship. Then the second half of the novel came and my feelings changed. He wasn’t very present in the novel but his actions are known, acknowledged and not appreciated by me!

Leo: I wish there was more of him in this book because he was a really funny and charismatic person. He fades off into the background about halfway through but for *reasons* so I guess it’s okay.

Bell: What a fun creature she was, indeed.

Other characters…there were plenty other characters like the ranch owners, the other maguey laborers and foremen but none of them took a prominent position.  They did however make a big impact on Sarah Jac and her journey, Bell being the biggest factor of them all.

Atmosphere: The best aspect of this book is the atmosphere, the setting and descriptions. Just beautiful. You really get the sense of the hot desert sand, the blazing sun, the relentless heat that is beating on our characters day in and day out. Mabry does a superb job creating the atmosphere and the tension of the characters nerves, motives and actions. Very well done.

Magic Realism: So I may not be an expert or know the exact definition of what magical realism is, but I’m 100% sure this book has it. And it was beautiful. The use of magic to makes the reader understand the desperation of Sarah Jac. Her experience working in these fields and the memories from her past that plague her. I enjoyed the use of magic to explain the going-ons in Sarah’s head and her emotions. It just added to the beauty of the story and I really enjoyed it.

Though I do propose a question: What does the YA world have against bees??? This is the second book I’ve read that uses bees as a source of corruption and death…like hello? Did no one ever watch The Bee Movie, our little friends deserve justice!

Romance: Stress. So you go in with a pre-made ship you don’t have to worry about all that tension, right? No. This ship had its problems in the beginning, but I was okay with it. That’s what couples have to do, work through their problems. Survive against the toughest of circumstances. Still. *Rendz, why is this under the liked stuff if you didn’t really like it?* The drama, obviously! I lived for it and it’s one of the few things that kept me well entertained.

What I Disliked

It could be slooooww: It got boring really fast and I just couldn’t keep myself glued to the pages long enough. I would have no motivation to pick it up because I knew that I was going to have to endure endless pages of Sarah Jac in her head, just thinking. That’s not to say that all her thoughts were boring, it’s just that sometimes things got repetitive and I wasn’t into it.

I was also a little confused about the time period! Was it set in the old west or in some twisted dystopia based on that time…I was very confused….it came off to me as a mix of both.

The Quick-Fixer-Upper Ending: This is a really big pet peeve of mine. Sometimes authors just end their books, they don’t conclude. This is one of them. If a book is a stand alone and the character’s journey is ending then they at least deserve a good, solid portrayal of what their lives after will be like after. I feel like this book ending too fast, there was no look into the post-trauma, just a “well they sort of lived happily ever after on their farm and they still have some issues dealing with the past. The end.” Ummmm could you expand maybe, just a little please? Like their issues were kind of big!! Really big actually, I’m still not over it!


Overall, it was a lovely story. I really enjoyed the more dramatic and entertaining bits and the hint of magic made the atmosphere even more beautiful to be in. The interesting characters and their dark pasts and motives made this a real roller coaster of emotions. Even some of their good intentions weren’t all that “good”. Interesting, I feel is the just the word to describe it.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! If you want to start out reading some Magical Realism, this could be a start!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? Can we gush about that cover? What genres are you looking to get into/try out? I definitely need more MR recs!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Tower of Dawn | Review

Greetings readers!

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I have long awaited this book. Not because I have been dying to read more SJM, not because I want to know more about that super important revelation she mentioned. No. I read this because I LOVE, I repeat I LOVE Chaol Westfall. And if you disagree or are completely perplexed at this little confession of mine, well I don’t really care. 🙂

What can I say? I’m going to start with stating the obvious:

  1. My life would have been much easier had I not read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
  2. I’m in love with Chaol Westfall, so I go forth for him.
  3. I am Petty when it comes to this series. P. E. T. T. Y.

I will in advance warn you about my pettiness.

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Books stress me out guys, this series just makes me plain angry and argghhhhhh! I hold unpopular opinions in this fandom that would have me incarcerated by others. Just kidding. I just have a lot of arguments with a lot of people who try to “change my mind”. News flash: it ain’t gonna happen! I just can’t.  Thinking about *certain* characters raises my blood pressure and I get frustrated with everything!

If you haven’t read this series (I applaud you for staying away. Honestly save yourself the trouble) well I can’t protect you from spoilers of books 1-5 anymore. I will highlight the spoiler stuff from this specific book, but I cannot guarantee you not getting spoiled about anything else in the series. So sorry.

I feel like this review is going to be full of unpopular opinions…but not in the way you might expect.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

tod

via Goodreads

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

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I love Chaol. Plain and simple. So many people fight me over why and all I do is point out that he is one hell of a flawed human, who makes mistakes, who has regrets, who is loyal, who sacrificed everything he had for his King, and tells it as it is. Did I mention this guy is 🔥🔥🔥?! Well, I’m shouting from the rooftops! CHAOL IS 🔥🔥🔥!!!!!! He gets so much hate and I can’t stand it, but I deal with it. Guys, I’m cool, okay? I deal with it. I disagree 1000000% and may get a little (very) flustered but I’m cooooool! I’m cool. *she said not very cool-like*

So yeah, if your an anti-Chaol kind of person, your reading a review by a pro-Chaol-anti-the-main-characters kind of gal. Just a fact.

I’m writing this in public and trying not to look like a flustered and obsessive fool….

*actual footage of Rendz*

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It’s so not working!

Okay, let’s get to it.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Chaol: *just gushing and swooning in public here* Ummm yeah. For all the reasons highlighted above. Flawed and human and hot and loyal and the total package! *at least one of you out there rolled your eyes…I sense you.* So Chaol, currently paralyzed waist down with a working manhood. Just facts guys, just facts. Don’t get weird on me. But yes, he travelling with Nesryn (friend w/ benefits?) to go and find the famed healers of the Southern Continent in hopes that he might be able to walk again. Chaol grows immensely in this book. He is a natural pessimistic so trying to see the bright side in things isn’t exactly his forte. He knows that the likely hood of him getting up again is slim so he learns to find hope. He is also trying to get together some allies to help aid them with the huge war brewing in the North. Neither tasks are easy and he goes through so many struggles, especially having to deal with the cunning and stubborn Khagan court.  But most importantly having to deal with his own inner turmoils.

Let’s just say…

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Nesryn: Yeah so our dear Nes here was brought into this series as a love interest really, it’s that obvious in Queen of Shadows. She isn’t so up front in that book, like she is in this one: so if your complaint for “not liking her” is equivalent to “not knowing enough about her” then I suggest you read this book because she is a pretty great gal!  She does have family from the Southern Continent so going back was like having a grand reunion with people she hadn’t seen in a while! I love how important her family is to her. And not just her immediate family, but all her relatives and people of the South. She is a resilient character, keeping her head up despite the many struggles she faces. I love how she found a sense of kinship even though she hadn’t seen her home in years, it’s so precious! Suffice to say that I loved that her character was explored in this book, that we got to see more than one side to her!

Yrene: I loved Yrene in the novella The Assassin & the Healer, I thought she had potential to move on to be a great character! I mean she was a healer in a time when magic was banned and she was going on an adventure to the south. Low and behold here she is in the midst of her adventure!!! I honestly fell even more in love with Yrene in this book. She was sassy and smart but still the gentle, kind and curious soul I remember her to be. She is fully fleshed out in this book, her past gets delved into deeper and some of the prejudices she harbours change too! Plus her bickering and teasing with Chaol always made my day!

Different World: Instead of it always being cold now it’s just tremendously hot. And you know what that means, Chaol has his shirt off all the time and that, ladies and gents, makes me very happy. As mentioned, this book takes place in the Southern Continent and the Khagnate which I believe was inspired by the Mongol Empire. So every character was pretty much a PoC, save those hailing from the North. I loved the change of setting a lot, I enjoyed this new built in world which had new laws and different societal norms. I liked that SJM really emphasized the differences between the north and the south and how it would come to affect Chaol’s goal in retrieving allies.

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Diversity was Better: This is true. In terms of different characters there is a wider variety. Most of the character are PoC seeing as it takes place in the south where skin colours range from light to dark brown. There are gay characters, one of the more principle royals is lesbian, and of course there is Chaol and his disability. Now I hesitate to comment on the disabled rep because I am not the person to say if it was done good or badly. I will however mention that Chaol did say that he hated people who said he would be “fixed” because he is not “broken”. So I appreciated that at least. Otherwise, I would have to look into someone else’s views on that particular rep. This is a step up from SJMs usual white washed world so pat on the back for that.

Suspense: I will be honest there is not a lot of action in this one. It’s mainly talking and healing and some more talking. There are most definitely action scenes! Nesyrn can be thanked for that! A new type of magical creature is introduced which was so much fun to explore!! But action I think really takes a back seat. What really kept me glued to the pages was the political circles that the Great Khagan and his Court were making Chaol and Nesryn run around.  So many twists.  So many moments where I was left a little perplexed as to how difficult they were making this journey for him. But it kept me glued and that is what I want people! To be glued. Not to mention Chaol’s journeys into himself and fighting whatever was brewing in that wound of his also added to the suspense and mystery of the story.

Romance: My baby is happy and that’s all that matters to me. Not going to lie though. This romance plot had me stressed to the highest levels and we had to revisit his last nasty break up which just hurt my soul. Y’all have no idea how affected I was when Chaolaena sunk. Sad doesn’t even cover it. Devastated. Distraught. Anguished. But now he’s happy and that’s the most I could ask for.  The sexy scenes were still more NA then YA, but I ship the ship so I was cool with it, not sure it’s appropriate for the 12 yr olds out there, though. However, I think they were less intense than EoS.

*might be spoilery*

Chaol’s face: I loved it before and now it’s just 10000000x better.

*end of might be spoilery*

What I Disliked

*Pettiness to come*

Slow Beginning: It took five-ever to get this going. Look, I appreciate a 600 page novel on my baby, but at least let there be something happening. I totally understand why people were kind of complaining because literally little to nothing happens in those first 100 pages! Still I stuck through because Chaol! And I hope you stick around too because it gets 1000x better!

The Cover: I.  WILL. NEVER. GET. OVER. IT. NO. NO. NO. CHAOL SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE COVER. FIGHT ME! I did rant about this in a separate post however so you can see more of my anger there: Tower of Dawn Cover & My Thoughts

The fan made one is still 100000000x better.

The Idolization of Rowan and Aelin: *pitch forks and torches suddenly surround Rendz* I hated this with a passion. *pitch forks get closer to Rendz* This book couldn’t go three pages without mentioning the mysterious Queen of the North, the Fireheart, the Queen and her Fae Prince, the….I DON’T GIVE A DAMN! Aelin is in no way a saint and this book honesty paints her as one every three pages. I literally counted how many times Chaol was mentioned in EoS; 13! 13. This is a 600 page novel and I have to endure her being talked about like a saviour every three pages! Sometimes twice on one page! There was however, one page where Chaol was going through a tough time and he said he hated Aelin and everything she did to ruin his life, I applauded. That was the best page ever. Things obviously change in the next page and we are back to praising her, but bless that page for saying the damn truth!

As you can see my pettiness with this series is strong and I’m not afraid to show it off!

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The Ending-Ending: I could have done without it, tbh. I know most others will however appreciate it.

Warning…More pettiness…..

Indigo (my big book retailer) had an Exclusive Edition…so of course I snatched it up! But I when I was thinking about a dust jacket poster, I was envisioning a beautiful scene from the book with my baby and perhaps Nesryn and Yrene at his side.

No.

Gorgeous finished copies of the special editions of Tower of Dawn just landed on my doorstep!!! 😍😍😍 Can't believe I'm finally holding this book in my hands (don't let its size deceive you: this baby clocks in at 660 pages)! Thanks so, so much to the amazingly talented artists who so graciously let us feature their work!! From top left: Nesryn and Chaol by @taratjah in the Target edition (the back pages of this book feature pieces by @merwildandco and @charliebowater); the @barnesandnoble edition that features some sample pages from my notebook while writing ToD (not featured here bc of spoilers!); and the beautiful poster of ToG characters by @merwildandco, which will be available at @chaptersindigo and in Australia & New Zealand! Only one month left until ToD is out in the world!! #towerofdawn #chaolwestfall #yrenetowers #nesrynfaliq #throneofglass

A post shared by Sarah J. Maas (@therealsjmaas) on

Instead, I got Aelin & Co. ft. Chaol on the back flap. The back flap. I’m going to be honest, I was (extremely) mad when I first saw the poster, I was yelling a lot. I was angry for a good two hours, I just kept on repeating the words “disrespect” and “horrible” and making roaring noises. I laugh at myself when I think about my reaction now, since it is a pretty nice poster but still….I could have done without Aelin & Co. I would, however, keep Dorian and Manon!


Overall, I liked it. Will it top my love for Crown of Midnight…no. But it came close and I appreciate a whole book dedicated to my baby, Chaol despite it having a heavy mention of you know who. The info in this book is really important to the rest of the series so I obviously see why you have to read it and I am happy that I did!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars (I would give Chaol all the stars though…anything for one of my book husbands!)

Recommend: Well duh! If you are gonna read the finale you kind of have to know what went down in this one. Plus, I need to find more Chaol-supporters out there!! Find me!!

Well, this is the end for now. The finale comes out next fall for all those wondering. I honestly am fine with this, I need a break from all this SJM. Who knows what I’ll do when I get to her other series, it won’t be for a while!

Let me know what you think! What did you guys think? Where my Chaol lovers at? Did some of the twists surprise you? If you want to rip me a new one about Chaol, go ahead, but I will always disagree. Just stay civil, no pitchforks!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Warcross Review

Greetings readers!

There are some moments that just stick with you forever. Those moments that either truly traumatized you or just leave you feeling good inside.

I have a lot of traumatic memories, most of them are embarrassing but hey, that’s just me and my awkward self.

One of those special moments is a mixture of both traumatic and happy! I was lucky enough to meet Marie Lu almost a year ago, in October when she was on her The Midnight Star tour. Meeting her left me shaking, if you don’t know, MARIE LU IS MY IDOL!

*Read more about that fateful day here*

Her books have left me mostly traumatized since I was 12 (but traumatized in a good way!)

So earlier this summer, I, for some odd reason, got a magical stroke of luck and won my first Goodreads giveaway! (It was the first one I ever entered!) AND I WON A GALLEY OF WARCROSS!!! Just imagine loud screeching and jumping up and down, that was basically my reaction! Then I actually received the book on Book Lovers Day!! I can’t even explain how over the moon I was!

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

via Goodreads

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

*I received this galley from a Goodreads giveaway, which doesn’t affect my opinion in any way.*

I’ve been waiting for this book since she first announced it! I will gobble anything written by Marie Lu. Even though I am not a video game kind of gal (I’ve never played a real video game in my life….it’s true!) I was still super excited for this! Virtual reality and a hot swoony billionaire, Y A S! So after having read it, I can happily tell you that it is classic Marie. Fun, stressful, and a hell of a lot twisty. PLUS THAT ENDING! I almost died.

What I Liked

Characters:

Emika: I love her, rainbow hair and all. (Not going to lie though, I would sometimes forget her colourful hair in my imagination and have to fix up my visual image!) But yes, Emika! A super talented hacker and incredible Warcross player with a tragic life story. She lives day to day just thinking about the amount of money she owes and scratching up just enough to get by, but time ran out for her and she had to make some big decisions. One of those obviously including hacking into the biggest game in the world! Perhaps not the most well thought out plan, but she is crazy smart and so brave considering how alone she has been her whole life. She is no Cress (the hacker-love of my life) but she knows what’s she’s doing and she does it well!

Hideo: Oh my God, *swoon*. Marie always makes up such great complex and broody book boyfriends that I just cannot! And he is a young, successful billionaire! Plus insanely hot! *I’m not saying I’m a gold digger, but billionaire is a pretty attractive word 😂* He is a rather elusive character, but slowly he is revealed to the reader. His own tragic past and his plans for the future: to make it different, make it better. He is as I mentioned a very complex guy.

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Other characters…Marie never fails in the diversity factor! Long before it was even a hot topic in YA (though it should have always been) There are all kinds of characters in this killer novel. Disabled, gay, various different races including a Latina (yay!) not to mention Emika is Chinese-American. I loved all the side characters of course! They were so much fun to explore and added an extra richness to Emika’s life and story!

Setting: Hello Japan! A country I have actually never visited, but I would love to some day! Though the Japan in this book is very, very different from Japan today! I don’t know the exact year, but I am pretty sure this book takes place in the future where technology has reached levels so incredible that only books likes these know of them! The descriptions of the tech and scenery really gave a beautiful distinction between the reality and virtual world, which I will talk about next!

The Virtual Reality: Since tech is so advanced in this story, people can live in Warcross basically all the time. (Which while I think is cool, is also pretty scary!) I loved every moment of playing the Warcross game and exploring the worlds within it. I loved the use of the characters’ knowledge in coding and all things computer science! I think it added authenticity to the story instead of the characters just knowing how to do all that crazy nonsense!

Action Packed!: Marie also never fails to keep me on my toes. When I was reading I wouldn’t leave the couch because there was always something next. Another game to play, another hacker to stalk, another secret meeting with Hideo. It was a constant pull to just keep reading, keep going. Plus the actual Warcross games themselves were like actual video games, so they were very action packed and suspenseful! Not to mention those that went downhill!

Romance: Slow burn! It’s always a slow burn with Marie, nothing ever happens in the moment, it happens with time. Emi and Hideo build a relationship. One that was supposed to be strictly business, but it leads to more. As they interact they find their commonalities, they find their differences and everything in between. Emika has looked up to Hideo since she was 11 in foster care and he was a 13 year-old genius. She might have idolized him just a tad, but who would ever think that they would get to meet and find more to love in their idols?! And find out that their idol is secretly impressed with them and begins to open up about himself to them. The chances of that happening is like 0, but this is a one in a million romance guys and I SHIP IT!

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Those Legend & Young Elites Easter Eggs: I just about died, when I read “Daniel Batu Wing”. I highly doubt he has any relation to my precious Daniel Altan Wing, but still! And then the one-eyed white wolf showed up in a Warcross game and I just about died again!

The Ending: Welp. I saw it coming and at the same time I didn’t. If that makes any sense. You see I predicted it but usually my predictions are never spot on…and while I wasn’t exactly spot on, I still got it!!! Was I a little upset that I guessed it? Yes and no. Yes, because darn it! I like to be surprised. And no, because darn it that was a great ending! THAT TWIST! It makes you seriously questions your morals and what you think “saving the world” is all about! Magnifique!

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What I Disliked

It Took A While: As much as I say there was Suspense! Suspense! Suspense! There was that little section of the beginning where I felt like Emika was just drawling on and on about her tragic past. Which was very tragic…but I got tired of it a little too soon…Awesome things did happen at the beginning, but there was no effortless connection to the characters. Everyone was a stranger to me until things finally started to happen!


Overall, I loved it! This book has had some intense amount of praise and hype because it deserves it! I’ve never read a book half set in a VR and it was an incredible experience! Trust me, once you let the characters grow on you a little bit you’ll be sobbing, panicking and cheering right along with them. Until the end of course, then you’ll just be sobbing!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: HECK YEAH! It’s Marie Lu people, MARIE LU!

Let me know what you think? This book came out last week so if l would love to hear your thoughts on it! What’s your favourite Marie Lu book? Does she always make you sob? (The only answer is, yes.) What are some of your favourite video games?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Colorless | Review

Greetings readers!

With school starting, blogging and I have been very far from each other, writing reviews is almost at a minimum. Still I have responsibilities so I must meet those!

First, let me tell you about the #struggle in writing this review. If you didn’t know I’m Canadian and in Canada we spell colourless with a U! And writing this entire review was tough because I would try to spell it the American way, forget and then remember and well I just gave up altogether in trying! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So if you see a mix of both….oops.

Colorless by Rita Stradling

Colorless (Colorless, #1)

via Goodreads

In Domengrad, there are rules all must live by: Fear the Gods. Worship the Magicians. Forsake the Iconoclasts.

To Annabelle Klein, the rules laid down by the Magicians are the mere ramblings of stuffy old men. As far as she’s concerned, the historic Iconoclasts, heretics who nearly destroyed the Magicians so long ago, are nothing but myth. She has much more important matters to worry about.

Heiress to a manor mortgaged down to its candlesticks and betrothed to her loathsome cousin, sixteen-year-old Annabelle doubts the gods could forsake her more.

Then Annabelle is informed of her parents’ sudden and simultaneous deaths, and all of the pigment drips out of her skin and hair, leaving her colourless. Within moments, Annabelle is invisible and forgotten by all who know her.

Living like a wraith in her own home, Annabelle discovers that to regain her color she must solve the mystery behind her parents’ murders and her strange transformation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of the Magicians’ monks, with their all-black eyes and conjoined minds, have usurped control of Annabelle’s family manor. An Iconoclast is rumored to be about—a person who they claim goes unseen, unheard, and lost to memory, yet is the greatest threat to all of Domengrad. For the first time in a hundred years, the monks plan to unleash the dire wolves of old.

*I was provided a free digital copy from the Publisher via Net Galley. This in no way affects my opinion!*

First of all: Cover = Gorgeous. Secondly, the synopsis of this book really intrigued me. I mean a person who had no colour, who was invisible, but still very much alive! Hello intrigue. I liked this book, it was not what I was expecting especially with the whole magical system and religion, but there were a few things that I felt it was missing.

What I liked

Characters:

Annabelle: She was a good MC. She had to learn how to navigate herself in a society that couldn’t see her but was desperately trying to hunt her down. She was tough and a thorough thinker in her plans….they might not have always gone as planned but at least she thought them through! I liked that she was stubborn and a hard head but still believed she was ever so patient and what was “lady like” in her time. She was not outstandingly amazing, but she wasn’t completely annoying either. And easy medium really.

Dylan: Again nothing utterly amazing about him, but he did add a lot of humour and mystery as well. I don’t know exactly how I feel about him in terms of putting him at boy toy level…or just not. He was a renowned “rake” to many of the maids of the stable, but he wasn’t a complete asshole. How do I put this into words…he was tired of being perceived as solely a sex object and wanted to he treated as someone who has feelings and wanted a real relationship. Yeah….something like that. Well he fought his “rake” title, but good reputation is hard to build!

Other characters… There were Dylan’s brothers who added more mystery and intrigue. As the only people (plus their grandmother) who could see Annabelle without her colour they had to figure out ways to help her. One brother was slightly less inclined to help and often caused a hard time for our poor, colourless Annabelle. There was also Tony who actually was an asshole but for *reasons* so we kind of forgive him…?

Descriptions & Settings: The world that Annabelle lived in was really set out. Despite the fact that she was colourless, everything else was filled with colour and there were very beautiful descriptions of the scenery and people. Even when she became colourless I could clearly visualize the colour melting off of her as it was described so I really enjoyed that.

Those Snippets of Religious Text: What I really liked is that there were mini paragraphs every few chapters that explained some of the gods that were mentioned in this book. It gave insight into exactly what was being dealt with which I liked, especially since the gods aren’t really present in the story so we get to know them through other means. It also added more structure to the society that the characters were living in and what the beliefs of the people were.

What I Disliked:

A Whole Lot of Confusion: I was thoroughly confused at some parts of the story. I knew that the monks were bad and that they had the people very controlled with the magicians and fear of the gods. Still why did the author need to add in these wolves? *But Rendz they are mentioned in the synopsis* BUT I DON’T GET IT! Where did they come from? How is it that you are chosen to become a dire wolf? Like why are they relevant? To chase down the iconoclasts? Okay…and…? My second complaint. These iconoclasts, so they lose colour…okay. I’m following. How come only some can see them? Annabelle’s transformation into being colourless still confuses me!! I still don’t get why they are so evil in the eyes of the magicians. I know why the magicians are evil but still their motives for targeting the colourless confuses me.

And don’t even get me started with the printing press. I didn’t get that, not at all.

Memorability: Even though the story was super cool and there were some intriguing elements, the story fell flat in being memorable. Like it’s been a few days and I’m already starting to forget character names,  events that are important parts of the plot. Maybe that’s why I’m having such a hard time answering those questions! It’s just not sticking to me and I wish it would because the ending was left open for a possible sequel….but I don’t exactly recall the actual ending of the book.

Yikes.


Overall, I did enjoy the book in the moment. It was magical, mysterious and very twisty. I did enjoy the magical elements and some of the more suspenseful events. Not to mention those monks were insanely creepy, but if I’m honest this book had me hooked in the moment not the moments after…sigh.

Rating: 2.75-3 / 5 Stars (In the moment 3…in the moments after 2.75)

Recommend: Sure. (Actually can someone read it and then explain things to me? Thanks)

Let me know what you think! How good are you at remembering stories? If you read this one, what did you think?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Bride of Glass | Review

Greetings readers!

I am not much of a thriller, horror kind of person. I’m just too much of a scaredy cat. Literally, I am weak. I am however, a fantasy kind of person. If the two are mixed…well that spells a whole lot of fun for me! And if the story is super intriguing, a little bloody and perhaps some kissing here and there: I’m all for it!

The Bride of Glass by Candace Robinson

The Bride of Glass (Glass Vault, #2)

via giphy.com

Perrie Madeline is trapped in Vale’s clutches as the Bride. Can Perrie find a way to escape her mental prison?

Maisie Jaser is on a rescue mission to retrieve her cousin and best friend, Perrie. Together, she hopes to bring down Vale and rid the world of the destruction he has caused.

Will Vale prevail?

*I was provided a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review*

 

So back at the end of the first book, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, I was immediately like: there better be a sequel…no way in hell it can end like this!!! Thankfully, Candace fulfilled my wish and wrote a sequel! Hoorah! Luckily, it was just as entertaining, fun and spookalicious as the first one!

What I liked:

Characters:

Perrie: I really liked Perrie in this one, she was fighting for her own conscience which I found very intriguing for the first half of the book. She doesn’t have it easy and a lot of bad stuff happens because of her. She has to accustom herself to a completely new life, without some of the old comforts she had. She has to forgive herself for some of the evil she herself unleashed. Yet, despite all this she is thoughtful and brave!

Maisie: Stole the show for me! She was the best! Very quirky, funny and oh-so courageous. She had a minor role in the first novel, but this book really showed off her best self! She doesn’t always think twice about her decisions, but since her gut is right a lot of the time, we’ll allow it!

Vale: Oh so intriguing. Another character fighting for conscience and moral. His back story was very interesting, though I wished a little bit of it had been established in book one. That would have elevated it so much more in this one.

And Neven, sweet Neven. He just got a lot of “awwww”s from me!

Plot: I thought the overall story itself was done well.  It connected well with the first book and closed all those hanging moments very nicely. I liked the backstory chapters in between the present day chapters because they really helped to give insight into the characters motives and actions. It also brought in those historical and mythological figures that were featured in the first book, which I loved.  It focuses less on being inside a traditional fantasy setting and brings the problems and the evil outside to the real world.

That Cover: Glorious. Symbolism is like used to the max on it and I love it! Plus it’s purple!!!!!!

Romance: Ship! Ship! Ship! TWO SHIPS! The first ship was a little scary. It started out as abusive….but changed because *things happen* and though this book does not in any way promote the abuse as romantic, it was there and I was a little hesitant to cope after it in the second half. The other ship however: SHIP SHIP SHIP!!!!

What I Disliked:

The Flow: My biggest complaint. All the good drama as battle stuff doesn’t happen until the very, very end. I’m talking last chapter. There was not enough time put into that drama which was what I wanted. The first 80% of the novel was just the characters walking, talking and some small backstory bits. Not to say that they weren’t entertaining and had some suspenseful elements, it’s just that the end was super squeaky clean!The big epic finale didn’t happen. The part where I was supposed to be biting my nails and going OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG didn’t happen and I was very disappointed!

What did happen wasn’t even that intense. The author opened up a great window, but didn’t use it! I was hoping for a little more on that factor!


Overall, I did enjoy this book! It was fast and when I did read I couldn’t put it down!! The characters are what made this book great, so if your a character kinda person like me, definitely check it out!

Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Like your books a little bloody, a little spooky, and a whole lot of intrigue? Perhaps with a little fairy tale elements here and there? Then yes!!

This book came out September 1st, yesterday! Please go out and support out fellow blogger author Candace @ Literary Dust by giving her book a read! (But read the first one first!! Obviously!)

Let me know what you think. What are some of your favourite historical figures you would love to see get YA twists?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Black Birds of the Gallows | Review

Greetings readers!

There are lots of reasons books attract me. There is the pretty cover. The promising synopsis. The one little element that has me going: YAS! This one had all three. I mean just look at that cover! The synopsis, oh my! Harbingers of death! And that “YAS” element: Black birds. I don’t know why, but Rendz was instantly intrigued by that ominous title!

Black Birds of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the Gallows

via Goodreads

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

*I was provided a free digital copy from Entangled Teen via Netgalley, which in no way affects my opinion!*

Um…yes! That synopsis just spells intrigue all over it! Harbingers of death!! This novel was very fun. It had a lot of ominous and spooky elements that payed homage to the death themes, the characters were funny and quirky and the overall story moved quite well! It was also a very quick read, which I appreciated!

What I liked:

Characters:

Angie: Angie was a very interesting character. She was the shy, meek girl who stayed in the shadows, she was also a girl with a difficult past and a girl with an opportunistic future. She had an alter-ego and everything! I liked her character a lot, she was quirky and curious. I mean that opening scene had me laughing out loud. Her curiosity gets her into some trouble, but when does curiosity ever lead to anything but trouble?

Reece: Reece is your typical YA kind of guy. Hot? Check. Broody? Check. Swoony? Double check (He is from Spain, hello!…..well “from Spain”) Has a difficult past that he can only share with the female main character? Check. Bonus: He can shape-shift. He’s not an unlikable kind of guy, but he just wasn’t very outstanding! I needed a little more meat to his character to really cement some feelings. But definitely Boy Toy material.

There several other characters in this book like Angie’s friends, who brought a lot of comedy! Angie’s relationship with her father was absolutely precious. It wasn’t distant or distraught, but very strong and fortified! So kudos to Kassel for skipping that absent-parental YA trope!

The Birds & the Bees: No not that kind of birds and bees, I literally mean the birds and the bees. Two beings that coexist in this book in order to bring death. It’s not exactly team-building kind of work and it’s not a pleasant symbiotic relationship but wherever one is the other will be! And it was creepy as hell. I will never look at bees the same, or crows for that matter. Neither of which have a prominent presence where I live. However, I did like how these two creatures held their own little mythology and magic. It was a great way to stir up trouble in the town, without it being obvious.

The Atmosphere: It’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s darn right creepy! The isolated town in the mountain where supernatural things are bound to happen was the perfect  setting to this novel! Kassel did a great job of setting up all those mysterious tones and the mood was always paranoia. What was going to happen next? A perfect, perfect setting!

Not to mention the “villain”, who can also be argued as a “victim” was super odd. He was borderline stalker creepy! With faces that changed and bees that literally pour out of his mouth! EW! But his reasoning for his intentions was great. It is something you want to sympathize with, but at the same time negate because he is doing horrible things!

What I Disliked:

Backstory Could’ve Been Stronger: Backstory was a huge element in this book. HUGE! And it totally fell for me. 😦 I felt like Angie’s and Reece’s stories needed to be focused on more, to really understand how they came to be who they are. Although Angie did have her story touched upon various times in the book, I felt like it needed just a little more. As for Reece, there wasn’t really any of that broody backstory to reference.

Origins of the magic that dwells in the bird and bees also could have been further explained. There was no clear story as to where these beings came from other than that there was a curse and more powerful beings controlling them!

Resolution: It was just too squeaky clean. Kassel does this thing (which I don’t always appreciate) where a vast amount of time passes between the end of the conflict and now the characters are back to their regular lives, but it’s not an epilogue. There is no post-struggle drama…everybody is just cool with what passed. And though I don’t want to spoil, Reece’s resolution to his little bird problem was in no way satisfying. I had a lot of “whys” and “hows” by the end of the book.


Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was fun and creepilicious. It has some of those typical paranormal tropes and it’s rather predictable here and there. Still, I liked it. It grabbed my attention and it was a solid story!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! For my lovers of Autumn who want a deliciously creepy read!

Let me know what you think! What elements of a book really make you want to pick it up? What’s your favourite tropey paranormal read?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Mini Reviews | Sabriel & I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Greetings readers!

Library hauls call for lots of books. Lots of books call for lots of reviews.

Lots of reviews make Rendz lazy, so she pushes them off for weeks!

Then full reviews turn into mini reviews and multiple mini reviews take up one post!

Making Rendz’s head ache!

But I’ve read so many good books that I just need to share them with you guys, so multiple mini reviews it shall be!

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)

via Goodreads

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

This is a classic fantasy book that I have been wanting to read for a while!

The Likes:

  • Wow…..what a prologue of intrigue!
  • Sabriel = funny, smart and so, so, so brave! I loved every minute of her adventure!
  • WOW NECROMANCY MAGIC WOAH!!!! YES. YES. YES. With BELLS, how cool!
  • Travelling through the Nine Gates of “Hell”, WOAH!
  • Sassy talking cat!!! Mogget was the funniest character and honestly made the whole book for me!
  • The fantasy world itself was so magical! There was a lot of mystery and so much exploring to be done in the realm
  • Literally cannot pronounce any of the fantastical words.
  • The bad guys were on point!
  • Why….Hello Touchstone. Broody, smol, funny bean! *bats eyelashes*
  • The adventure itself was fun and very twisty. There were a lot of things that went wrong and the final battle held a lot of heartbreak! Right up to the last page!
  • The epilogue saved my soul.

The Dislikes:

  • I was confused quite a bit, there were so many different clans and types of magic that didn’t fully click in my mind!
  • It was a little slow sometimes…I kind of got tired of reading. And the beginning chapters when Sabriel was alone were the most grueling!
  • Despite there being so much magic, I needed more. I needed clarification. (Do I even make sense??)

Overall it was a good book. I look forward to reading the next book, but I’m afraid it focuses on other characters in the realm! Hopefully Sabriel’s story isn’t completely finished!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: For the classic Fantasy lovers!



I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl  by Gretchen McNeil

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

via Goodreads

From acclaimed author Gretchen McNeil comes her first realistic contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The Duff  and Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone.

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

Another summer contemporary read that I have been eyeing for a while!

The Likes

  • Beatrice is fun and quirky! A half Filipina MC! She is definitely flawed, but she does have a super amazing brain that can work things out so quickly. Things that are math related of course….things like relationships need more time in the processor for her!
  • Spencer…broody, moody artist! Très wow!
  • Gabe! The heart and soul of the book! Awwwwwwwwwwww!!!!
  • It took a bit, but I finally understand what a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is!
  • Although I was very #TRIGGERED by all the calculus that was in this book, I enjoyed it and it even made some sense! (not a lot though…)
  • Drama. Lived for it.
  • Second Hand Embarrassment is at an all time super high in this one.
  • I laughed A LOT. I love that French part XD
  • The ending: Millions of heart eyes!!!! Awwwwwwwwww!!!!
  • Romance: IT TOOK FOREVER *did I mention that Bea was not great at analyzing relationships?*

The Dislikes

  • Not a lot of girl friendships until the very, very, very, very end and it was super super minimal, it’s actually a lot of girl on girl hate because Bea has such a hard time relating to others.
  • It was super mellow! Even the most suspenseful or heart-stopping moments didn’t make me budge.
  • Maybe a little more detail in Bea’s messed up parents life?? (This is mainly me just wanting to know more because honestly her mom and dad are nuts. Locos.)

Overall, it was a cute solid contemporary. It wasn’t as heart warming and intense as I was hoping but it was very, very funny! A perfect summer read, even though it takes place during the school year 🙂

Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

Recommend: For the lovers of contemporary who want to laugh!


*wipes forehead* Phew! That was something! Two of my okay reads this past month! I look forward to reviewing some of my higher rated books later this month!

Let me know what you guys think! Have you read these? What classic fantasies do you have yet to get to? Any other humour filled contemporary recs?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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House of Ash | Review

Greetings readers!

It feel like it has been forever since I have written a review. The mood has just not struck me lately. While I have read a lot, I have been slacking on turning on the laptop and typing away. But here I am today, tying away at a review that I hope you will enjoy!

House of Ash by Hope Cook

House of Ash

via Goodreads

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.

*I was provided a copy via Netgalley & the publisher, but all opinions are my own!*

I didn’t know exactly what to expect from this book. Was this going to be time-travel-y, horrorish, fantastical? Like, I didn’t know! It definitely turned out to be a mix of all of those. With a whole lot more just thrown in at you. The synopsis really does the bare minimum to prepare you for the novel. I’m not saying that it was unpleasant, but very different from what I didn’t even know to expect! (Rendz, you make no sense sometimes…)

What I Liked

Characters: 

Mila: While I felt she was just a tad underdeveloped, I enjoyed her character. For a woman living in the 1800s she was rather scandalous. She rode horses and didn’t like to conform to the typical role of a woman in her time. She was far more advanced in her thinking. She was most definitely not perfect, she had her flaws especially her tendency to run head first into trouble. But she was undeniably brave considering the struggles she went through.

Curtis: I found he was the bigger focus of the novel. He had a tough life, grieving his dead mother having to protect his younger sister and somehow manage their mentally ill father. It is clear that Curtis did not enjoy his life and would have rather been born in a different family.  Now that his own sanity is at risk with the whispers, he finds himself in even more troubles and things get a hell of a lot worse. He was a very complex character. He had his rough side, his tender side, his defeated side and his fighter side. A lot of different faces for different situations.

Switching Between Times: It was smooth and not confusing. Sometimes the story gets all jumbled when it keeps being switched back and forth, back and forth. I thought that it was great in this book. There was never really a dull moment in either. I would get engrossed in the Curtis’ time and then switch to Mila’s and still be engrossed because things were always changing!

Setting: *IN CANADA* You know, patriotic Rendz brought out her flag and timmies XD

But seriously, I enjoyed the haunting and ominous setting. It was very creepy and alluring, and went perfectly with both time lines. As much as I like to say that it was very haunting, I will say that maybe a little more detail to just complete the atmosphere would have made this book even better.

THIS IS MONSTER HOUSE BUT WITH TIME TRAVEL: If you don’t know what I’m talking about…I’m talking about this:

Image result

via google!

*I don’t know about you, but this movie freaked me out as a small person!*

The element of the living house is what I found common between the book and the movie! It was what gave the extra little creep factor! While I was reading and this image of a creepy house that lives popped up into my mind, THIS MOVIE came to me in a huge flashback! The stories are very different but the whole haunted house thing is similar!

It eats people….

What I Disliked:

Serious Issues That Are Just Kind of Thrown At You: By page 40 or so in this book I was exposed to several serious topics. You have parental abuse, mental illness and suicide. I was anticipating MI, but the other two just came at me. The parental abuse was very minimal…but I found that it was also addressed minimally. Suicide went hand in hand with the MI aspect…but again, I felt like it was dealt with too simply. Again, I don’t know. I am no expert in any of these topics, so I cannot really be a judge.

Abrupt Ending: This was the ending: Mystery solved. Dusts off hands. The End. There was no final ta-da or wazam! I kept flipping to see if there would be more after, but no. There was a big *thing* at the end that I think needed some explaining because I found it hard to wrap my head around!


Overall, I thought it was a good story. It did keep me on my toes and had some great creepy feelings to go alongside the time travelling mystery. I liked how the story flowed and came together overall, despite those minor issues I mentioned. It didn’t leave room for a sequel, but like…a sequel could be useful to explain that *thing* I mentioned at the end! I almost forgot! This book has a few images! They aren’t full colour and kind of look like X-rays…but not! But again, it added to the creep factor!

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Recommend: A Monster House-esque tale, with creepy Victorian and Present Day Canada! Oh yes!

I’d like to know how you fare in a haunted house! Can you make it to the end? Would you break down in the middle of it? Or never dare go in?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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