Review Rendezvous: 10/4/19


Today’s review is part of a blog tour with Rockstar Book Tours! Check below for a giveaway, US only.


The Fire Keeper by  J.C. Cervantes, Irvin Rodriguez (Illustrations)
Book stats:
Genre(s): Middle grade, fantasy, mythology
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 432
Publish date: September 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Purchase: Amazon – KindleAudibleB&NiBooksKoboBook Depository

Zane Obispo’s new life on a beautiful secluded tropical island, complete with his family and closest friends, should be perfect. But he can’t control his newfound fire skills yet (inherited from his father, the Maya god Hurakan); there’s a painful rift between him and his dog ever since she became a hell hound; and he doesn’t know what to do with his feelings for Brooks. One day he discovers that by writing the book about his misadventures with the Maya gods, he unintentionally put other godborn children at risk. Unless Zane can find the godborns before the gods do, they will be killed. To make matters worse, Zane learns that Hurakan is scheduled to be executed. Zane knows he must rescue him, no matter the cost. Can he accomplish both tasks without the gods detecting him, or will he end up a permanent resident of the underworld?

In this cleverly plotted sequel to The Storm Runner, the gang is back together again with spirited new characters, sneaky gods, unlikely alliances, and secrets darker than Zane could ever have imagined. Secrets that will change him forever.


To preface this review, two things: I haven’t read a middle grade book since I was actually old enough to fit the target age range for it, and I also haven’t read the first book of this series.

Having said that, this book did a great job of getting me up to speed with what I’d missed from the first book. Honestly, I always questioned why authors recapped things briefly in second, third, etc. books when I’d clearly read the first and didn’t need to be reminded. Now I realize it’s for situations like this haha.

I like that the author included other gods besides the Greek and Roman pantheons, because we see so many books set there within the mythology book type. There’s a specific emphasis on Mayan gods in this series, which I haven’t read a lot about. I loved the chance to learn more, even if it was in a fictional setting.

The pacing of the book was very well done, it kept me reading even when I thought about putting it down for the night. Overall this is a really solid book, and the only true reason I didn’t give it five hearts was that middle grade is just not my cup of tea. I did appreciate being sent the book for review however, and I can tell that the author has a great writing style. Perhaps she’ll dip her toe into YA later on and I can pick up another book… 🙂

Rating:


About J.C.: 

J.C. Cervantes is the New York Times best-selling author of The Storm Runner, The Fire Keeper, and Tortilla Sun. Her books have appeared on national lists, including the American Booksellers Association New Voices, Barnes and Noble’s Best Young Reader Books, and Favorite MG Science Fiction/Fantasy Top Ten Books, as well as Amazon’s Best Books of the Month. She has earned multiple awards and recognitions, including the New Mexico Book Award, and the Zia Book Award.

J.C. lives in New Mexico (otherwise known as the Land of Enchantment) can read, write, and talk backwards, always roots for the underdog, and believes in magic.

Her work is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


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Review Rendezvous: 9/21/19


Fracture by Nina Walker
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, dystopian, fantasy
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 336
Publish date: October 19th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

Broken by magic and murder, he’ll risk everything for revenge.

Prince Lucas is falling to pieces. He couldn’t save his mother, and now his father is hesitant to execute the man responsible for her death. Lucas only has Jessa, the last shred of light left in his dark world. But she’s conflicted.

What if he loses her too?

Jessa made a commitment. Her family, the resistance, even her own country is counting on her to succeed. She must be initiated and gain the trust of the king. She jumps headfirst into her alchemy trials, determined to impress the court. She knew the tests would be dangerous, but never expected they might reveal her secrets.

And what happened to her friend, Sasha, anyway?


Before you continue, this is the second book in the series, so spoilers for book one will be involved. Read at your own risk. That being said, I’m back with the second book in the Prism series, the first of which I reviewed a few years ago. You can read that review here.

We’re back with Jessa just after she staged an escape from the palace with Lucas at the end of book one. She’s now back in the palace, the Resistance having placed her back in so they can develop their spy network there. I can’t remember if we rotated perspectives in the last book, but now in book two we see from the perspectives of Jessa, Lucas, and Sasha, Jessa’s long-lost sister who escaped and came back as a spy before Jessa arrived at the palace.

The big bad from the last book, Thomas, has just been chilling in jail. He should be answering for the crimes against the crown, but due to his red magic, the king probably wants to use him. Clearly Lucas is upset about this since the dude killed his mother, but his father has bigger political plans.

There’s a lot of scheming and planning in this book, it’s definitely setting up a wider conflict for the next two installments. There’s also a fair amount of training involved, so it was nice to see the magic system expounded upon. If you don’t remember from the first book, the magic system in this world has to do with the use of color, hence the name of the series. I thought it was super unique, still do, and I love the take this book makes blending both dystopian elements and fantasy together.

We also see a bit of a broader view of the rest of the world, not just New Colony. West America – which seems to mostly be the west coast and some midwest of the current country – is threatening to overtake New Colony, so King Richard decides to do something about that before they can.

I also really liked the development of Lucas’ character. I didn’t sense a lot of growth in Jessa, most of the events happen to her instead of her doing much about it herself (which might actually be good, since she’s in the dark about a lot of plans and would’ve totally screwed them up). But Lucas, he shows a lot more of his true colors in this book. I’d almost say he’s functioning as more of a protagonist in this one. It could be because we have the chance to get into his head more here, but I appreciated seeing him make his own choices. Granted, his future is heading in a way that might not be looking good for the relationship between him and Jessa, but I can’t say much on that without giving away spoilers.

Overall, I really did like this book. I can’t give it five stars, just because there’s a lot more downtime in this book, and I am extremely excited to see where this goes in the next two books!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 11/24/18


The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak by Wendelin Gray
Book stats:
Genre(s): Fantasy, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 546
Publish date: 2015
Purchase: Amazon

THaIPP

Trouble is brewing in the province of Ling-xiu when the murder of an elderly queen sends young Princess Bingsong into exile at a forgotten mountain villa. When a series of hauntings begins and she finds her father’s old diary, Bingsong, her handsome bodyguard Azuma, the villa’s mysterious steward LimTamm, and teenage servant girls Peitho and Lysithe are drawn into a 400 year old murder mystery hinted at by a string of small nightingale paintings. Bingsong’s struggle against an arranged marriage merges with the sinister history of the villa, the site of a massacre spurred by the rivalry between two temple acolytes. As corrupt security forces led by the province’s head magician Kimon are poised to take over the capital and eliminate Bingsong’s puppet king father, Kimon awakens an ancient evil in his quest to find the ruins of the drowned palace of Zu-bai, once the home of the world’s most powerful magician. As the epic battle between the spirits on the mountain is set to span two provinces, Bingsong and her friends must delve into the ancient history of the neighboring province of Zu-dang in order to lay to rest the grudges of the past.


Not gonna lie, there was a lot going on in this book. most of it did end up flowing together very well, but at the same time maybe there was a bit too much? I’m all for action- or detail-packed storylines, I usually even prefer them over the simpler contemporary storylines, but this one had a bit more than I would’ve liked.

That is not to say that the story is bad, however. I am a big fan of Asian culture, art, and influences (my dream as a kid was to spend time in China and Japan) so I highly enjoyed those influences in this book. The writing was also beautiful, even if it did take me a while to read through everything because the print was a bit smaller than usual. But Once I adjusted to that, everything was great.

I’d say this book is great for people looking for a bit of fantasy, magic, and Asian influence all together in one. It’s not a book that everyone will love, but it is wonderfully crafted either way.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 10/27/18


The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical fiction, fantasy, retelling
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 416
Publish date: October 2nd, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TSoKVT

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.


I loved the spookiness of this book right off the bat. I also have not read a historical fiction in forever, so I enjoyed getting back into this genre. Honestly, this is the perfect book for Halloween time.

There’s a great blend of retelling and fresh, new content with the romance side. I did notice the attraction popped up pretty quickly, but it didn’t bug me too much overall. There is definitely a bit of the “I’m my own person, I’ll do what I want” attitude that may be a bit cliche for historical romance heroines. On the flip side though, it’s also nice that she’s not just a doormat that lets people walk all over her.

The beginning may have been a bit slow, but overall I think this is a really good read. It’s perfect to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot drink in the fall/Halloween season 🙂

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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Review Rendezvous: 8/11/18


The Steel Sentinel by Kyle Williams
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 292
Publish date: March 15th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon

TSS

War and Chaos bound together
Death is all alone
Life is lake and forest plenty
Peace sleeps with the bones

It all began with death, a mysterious woman, and a poem. The balance of the world is in jeopardy. The Guardians of War, Chaos, Peace, Life, and Death have all gone missing. The world threatens to tear itself apart and at the center.

There is Kyah.
An unassuming girl from a small village in Canada obsessed with the lore of our people. In the very oldest lore of our people, they tell of a child. A child who will rise up when the world is in its darkest hour.
And now, That time has come.

The world is on the verge of darkness and destruction. She has charged herself with finding the guardians and restoring the balance.


I’m always down for a good mythology story, so I loved getting into this book. There is a great balance of action and character building, which can sometimes get lost in stories that fall in the fantasy category. I highly enjoyed getting to know the character of Kyah, and could definitely relate and see a bit of myself in her.

Overall, I thought the pacing was quite good and really enjoyed the voice and style of the writing. The ending also grabs you and sets up further entries into the series very well. I look forward to future additions to this world.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:


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