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review 2016-05-31 18:20
Baker's Magic
Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Don't bake angry!

Whatever mood Bee is in when she bakes is the same mood whoever eats her baked goods will be in. This magic can be useful, but sometimes pretty rough, especially when Bee bakes in a bad mood, and before they figure out that's the cause of the unusually ill-tempered customers. But Bee also is a pretty rad baker, and soon the royal palace wants Bee's baked good delivered to the palace, where she discovers a rather nasty arranged marriage in the making and dastardly plots ruinous to the country. She befriends the Princess Anika and helps her to escape so they can go inform the Mage Council of the unsavory goings-on in Zeewal. Along the way, they encounter a friendly gang of roving tulip pirates, father figures, and tree spirits. Oh, and Anika has a pet hedgehog, so that's cool.

I was so very pleased that Wil had a sort-of romance with Anika and NOT with Bee. #blessed

Overall, it was okay and there were some elements that I very much enjoyed, but it didn't bridge the gap for older readers as well as some MG books manage to, so that I would probably only recommend it for the intended audience.

I also got my hands on a hard-copy, so props to Capstone for their quality of publishing - the pages were thick and the binding was strong and tight.

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review 2016-04-10 20:37
A Stolen Kiss
A Stolen Kiss (The Stolen Royals) (Volume 1) - Kelsey Keating

**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

 

What to say about this one...it's a tough one to talk about, in my opinion, because it's not bad per se, but not good either. (Ugh, these books are the worst to review.)

 

Mainly, I didn't care. I thought about giving up pretty much the whole way through, which is just never good. But some of the actual issues I had with this beyond lack of interest are that this is labeled YA but the writing, the dialogue, everything is juvenile, and not in a good way. Especially as the oldest MC is supposed to be 18, with the rest of them a few years younger, but they all pretty much have the same maturity level. Ellis was the best character, and there was a definite lack of the shapeshifter, alas.

 

Also, for being near 350 pages, it's actually quite surprising how basically nothing happens. For that reason, it also moves very slow.

 

 

Pretty sure this whole thing could have been solved so much quicker if Derric had just FRICKING kissed her as soon as he realized he was the one who had cursed her in the first place. Could have saved like 100 pages but whatever. 

(spoiler show)

 

 

Honestly, it's not terrible, but it didn't hold my interest, and is the exact opposite of what you might call memorable.

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review 2016-03-01 18:29
The Last Of The Firedrakes
The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles, #1) - Farah Oomerbhoy

**An copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

How? HOW does this have such high ratings and favorable reviews? 'Cos this was so bad, you guys. Oh, I should have DNFed. There's an hour of my life I won't be getting back.

It started out, not promising perhaps, but not totally terrible, in a generic fantasy story marginally better written than if written by an average 12 year old sort-of way. And it continued in this vein for the next 350 pages or so, with the addition of about a bajillion hackneyed cliches, an honest to goodness Pixie Hollow (with accompanying names eg. Penelope Plumpleberry), and a terribad romance. Let's look at the story, noting some of the cliches, shall we??

(Okay, not all of this will be totally 100% chronological. I'm only human. And I was speed reading.)

Aurora, an orphan, lives with her horrid adoptive aunt and uncle and cousin. Her uncle sells her to some baddie, who takes Aurora to a magical land, where Aurora discovers she is not only royalty but has inherited both of her parent's powers; she is both a mage AND an immortal fey, the combination of which is practically unheard of. She is also literally the most powerful fey-mage since the bestest and most awesomeest fey-mage whose names escapes me but basically he was super important and powerful. Her aunt wants her dead so she can take over the throne with absolutely no competition from the true heir. (But the "true heir" was in an entirely different fricking WORLD before the aunt brought her to Avalonia.) She falls into Insta!love (she actually refers to him as the love of her life, and her soul mate *gag*) with the Black Wolf, a dashing tall dark and handsome dude who runs around the kingdom doing who knows what but he's got this big huge reputation and he is actually the crown prince in disguise (I didn't see that coming AT ALL) and a total smarmy ass-hat. Aurora can talk with Pegasi, and she has one named Snow, and every scene with those two was dripping in awful saccharine pretty princess Pegasus power hour writing. Aurora is sent to a magical boarding school to learn how to control her powers, and where she encounters an Avalonian version of Draco Malfoy named Damien Blackwater, if memory serves, who blathers on about his pure "bloodline", is a general twat, and whose family is secretly in cohoots with Morgana. (At which point, I was jabbing at the Ipad screen at the rate of probably 20 pages a minute, just scanning the pages, because I was pretty confident there was nothing worth reading past that.) Aurora moons over Rafe, and they make out a bit but it never seems like it comes from any place of actual affection and it's written TERRIBLY. (This, and what was going on plot wise, had started to induce groaning and facepalming.) And then I think we are learning more about this special book of Abraxis that Morgana wants so she can control Dragoth (who is a demon?? I forget) but there are four keys you need to open the book, and she only has one. And then Aurora is an idiot (see below) and opens a portal (to hell?????) and lets Lilith (...like....that Lilith???) into Avalonia, and I don't know, Lilith is gonna use Morgana as a host body, because her wraith form will dissipate or she's weak in wraith form, or something like that. And that's mostly the end.

Aurora is also incredibly stupid. She's on the run from people who want to kill her, but instead of trying to get to someone who can help her, she begs to stay in Pixie Hollow (or whatever it was called) to sightsee the fairy market. Which gets raided by the Shadow Guard and she gets captured. Aurora also decides NOT to tell on one of the girls at the boarding school who let the Shadow Guard in, and is basically a big fat traitor, because.....that would be...tattling??? Oh gosh, there were so many instances of her stupidity, but here's another goodie. Aurora is told that bringing Snow back to life would be "dark magic" aka VERY VERY HELLA BAD DON'T DO IT and she fricking does it, because she neeeeeds Snow back. Well, guess what, Aurora? I hope you're happy that you using dark magic opened a hell portal.

(spoiler show)



Anyways, up till the last 60 pages or so, it was pretty darn bad, but it would have probably gotten two stars, because it was basically just a poorly written generic fantasy amalgamation of tropes and tween dreams when you'd daydream in your backyard about secretly being magical royalty. It wasn't something I would ever recommend, but as a wee girl with very few standards I might have even enjoyed it. Until Aurora and Rafe's gag-o-matic tripe of a "romance" was two-sided, and the plot went completely haywire.

Also worth mentioning is that this reads VERY middle grade, from plot to characters to the writing style, but then some bits felt more like they belonged in a YA? I think maybe this is one of those weird little books that was meant and marketed as YA but comes off as extremely childish and MG.

Thank goodness it's finally over.

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review 2016-02-09 18:13
Walk The Earth A Stranger
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

You know that game, The Oregon Trail? You would choose an occupation (I was usually a carpenter, so I could fix broken axles, wheels, etc), assign your skill points for foraging or keeping morale high, choose a city to start from(I always started from Independence or Jefferson City) and a city as your end destination(Honestly, I mostly shot for Salt Lake City, as it was the closest, and involved less desert), choose when to leave (I would leave in the middle of February, because spring would be coming soon, but if you made good time, you'd be able to cross the rivers when they were frozen and miss the spring floods), and then wander around town, buying food, guns and ammo for hunting, livestock, and assorted goods, being careful not to exceed the weight limit of whatever wagon you bought. (I always bought the biggest - I needed to be able to cart along those extra 100 pounds of celery, cheap and nutritious.) And then, finally, you would start off down the trail.

This book was the rest of the game.

You would travel and travel, finding wild fruits and veggies, riding out on hunting expeditions (a bison stampede, oh boy!)

 

 

fight outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, general illnesses,

 

 

and the death of members of the wagon train.

 

 

Somebody would get grumbly and you'd rest for a few days to bring up morale. Maybe you'd run out of water and frantically search for an trading post that might still have a barrel. If you were enterprising, you could trade with other wagon teams or Indians you met along the way. Sometimes the hills were so steep, you'd have to use chains on the wheels, or risk a tipped/broken wagon(Lee's wagon train should have considered chains...) And then of course, inevitably, no matter what you did, a wheel, axel, or yoke would break.

 

 

And while this book didn't have every minute element of the Oregon Trail and it certainly had some additions to the expedition, it was basically the same. (No surprise there.) Except I'd have been rather playing the game. Which is not to say that this was bad, but it was slow and it's basically just a long lead-up to the following books of this series. Very little happens that you couldn't start with Book Two and jump right into the story. Lee's gold finding abilities are utilized very little, and nothing much comes of it, except for it being the driving reason why she leaves town for California. And honestly, I see why she's going to California, because people are gonna be less suspicious of her tripping over gold every time they turn around, but it will also incite a lot of jealousy on their part, even if they don't discover her secret. So California also seems the absolute worst place someone of her abilities could go. Someone finds out about your ability, and you're up a creek without a paddle. In fact, she's already discovered that people are willing to murder to get to her and her abilities, and the murderer is following her to California. Like, come on, girl, GO TO TEXAS OR SOMETHING.

 

But actually, now that I'm considering this, this book is a cross between The Oregon Trail and the Yukon Trail, which was boring as heck as you traveled up to the Yukon and really only got exciting when you could stake a claim and start panning and mining for gold.

 

 

That being said, I will be checking the second book out, because maybe something exciting will happen now that Lee's in California? One can hope.

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review 2015-12-31 15:53
The Burning Sky
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas

The idea for this book series is pretty chill, and it even started out pretty dang well, but unfortunately, it had a few key issues.

 

The Melodramatic Romance: It is so utterly ridiculous. I think maybe this is the book I rolled my eyes at the most this year. Now just imagine a poetic flowery 16 year old boy obsessed with destiny and who thinks he's found his one true love, who also happens to be the Chosen One, the super-special, super-powerful (gorgeous!!) mage who will save the universe from the Bane.

 

Now imagine being privy to his every thought.

 

Imagine. The. Crap. He. Will. Think.

 

And not just think...say.

 

"My love, my sky, my destiny". (Actually, I think this line is from Book Two, but still, my copy of the book has been returned to the library, and this gets the point across.)

 

*gags*

 

I mean, I can take overly dramatic declarations of love, trust me, but not when it's coming from 16 year olds who used to make out with a fricking construct in, essentially, a dream world that he gave the appearance of his crush. (Yeah, I don't get it either) And not when it's put in that silly way.

 

But besides the melodrama, and Titus occasionally creeping me out, it wasn't that bad otherwise. The weirdest part about it was that I would go from "ugggggh" to "awwww" and back again every 30 pages.

 

The Pacing: Oh dear heavens. It started off promising, at a good clip and with enough going on with the introduction of characters to keep you interested. But the middle of the book just draaaags on and on, with very little actually going on in any way except for destiny talk and Titus being a strangely likable drama queen, and then the end picks up and resumes a normal and intriguing pace. But the middle is brutal.

 

Iolanthe passing as a boy: I find trouble with this, because Titus is constantly mooning about how beautiful she is, but apparently a husky voice and a cocky grin are enough to pass her off as a teenage boy, not just for a couple weeks, but over a great deal of time. In close quarters with a bunch of teenage boys. I just find this hard to believe.

 

Like, ew: The crude and lewd homosexual/sex/"wand" jokes scattered throughout were a bit distasteful, I'm just saying.

 

And as for the low rating, the rest of that simply resulted from me not really caring about where these kids ended up. And if I wasn't complaining about it, then whatever it was probably was pretty okay.

 

Oh, oh and I should mention the Crucible. The idea for the Crucible was very original and inventive and mind-twisty and something that every fantasy book probably aspires to have.

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