The Best Kind of Magic ★★★½☆☆

25436641A cute premise with great potential that was squandered by a forgettable character voice and boring writing.

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber’s pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone’s soul mate.

Amber works at her mother’s magic shop–Windy City Magic–in downtown Chicago, and she’s confident she’s seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one–her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor’s son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father’s missing girlfriend, she’s distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can’t see her own match, she can see his–and it’s not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn’t her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

A lot about this world is never clear from the start, including many key points about our protagonist. Her voice fluctuates from sounding like a 13 year old to a 16 year old, I never get a clear picture of her—and in fact only find out she had funky colored hair about a third of the way through the book—and her slang is outdated. In fact, it goes from Amber saying “amazeballs” to saying “gag me”.

There’s a lot of overcorrection and inconsistencies in the narrative, which not only means it’s annoying to the reader but also confusing. It feels like a waste of my time if the character spends a paragraph going “Well, actually…”. On multiple occasions, Amber mentions that not a lot of people know about magic or the magical underworld of Chicago, and yet a majority of her high school population is some brand of fey or troll or magical being.

I wasn’t invested in the story or even interested in really finding out what happens to the characters until nearly half way through the book. As a matter of fact, I was bored through most of it.

And even worse, the climax felt cheap as the threat never threatening at all. The one redeeming quality of the finale was Kim, as that would have been the only reason I would continue to read the story.

All in all, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it, and I was more intrigued by the concept than the actual story. Amber’s voice irritated me and I didn’t quite root for her during the story. I would read book 2, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Buy it here!

Review: Asteroid Made of Dragons ★★★☆☆

26159959.jpgIf you gave me the option to read a book with dragons, versus one without, I will pick the dragons over everything else. I love dragons that much. So, of course, being promised an asteroid made of dragons, I was pretty excited. And Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams was pretty exciting–at first.

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Review: Devil’s Daughter ★★★☆☆

22980192I picked up Devil’s Daughter: Lucinda’s Pawnshop by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff from NetGalley earlier in the year and finished it back in August. It took me quite a long time to power through this one. There were many times when I wanted to just call it a DNF and go onto another book. But I was intrigued and curious enough to overpower my boredom.

Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life human and immortal.

In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer s service.

Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mothers love by subverting her fathers schemes. She wins freedom for some; Lucifer keeps those who fail for eternity. She has to be careful, for Lucifer has placed her under the watchful eye of the fallen angel Nathaniel, whose real intentions are a mystery.

Lucifer manipulates his army of corrupted souls to achieve his end game: to explode the tension between global powers, then create a charismatic anti-Christ to seemingly save the world with Lucinda as mother and a hand-picked human as father.

But Lucinda has her own plans. After centuries of seeming distance from humanity, she falls in love with a mortal man, which threatens to derail Lucifer’s plans to trigger Armageddon. This book follows Lucinda s torturous relationship with her supernatural father, as she strives to secretly undermine his crusade to destroy mankind.

How deep does Lucinda’s humanity go? Where do her true loyalties lie? Is she her father’s ally, or her mothers child? And if the Devil’s daughter will not love a man he can control, can Lucifer control the man she loves?

Maybe it’s the fact that I was anticipating a young adult book and received instead an adult urban fantasy, which is my fault for not reading the NetGalley entry well enough.

Devil’s Daughter is about Lucinda, the daughter of Lucifer and Eve. She’s thousands of years old, and works under her father at their pawnshop, filled with mystical objects meant to turn humans to the devil’s subjugation. Lucinda works covertly to undermine her father’s plan for overtaking the human race.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t clear during my reading. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was that Lucinda was doing to take Lucifer’s plans down. Lucifer, meanwhile, was trying to set his daughter up with one of his minions, a fallen angel, but Lucinda instead fell in love with a human man.

There were so many point of views that it was difficult to keep track of. The first chapter isn’t even told from the main character’s perspective, it’s from some supporting character.

I can’t pinpoint the climax of the story or where the rising action was, or should be. It didn’t feel like there was much of a story to follow.

The characters, though, were a redeeming factor and the reason I kept reading. They were multifaceted and interesting, though I wasn’t all that interested in their love lives. It wasn’t enough to keep me invested in the story in the long run.

If supernatural contemporary fiction is right down your alley, I recommend Devil’s Daughter. It is part of a series, so take some time to look into it. As for me, it gets a solid three stars and no second glance.

Review: The Wanderers ★★★☆☆

22070953The Wanderers by Kate Ormand is a tale of a circus full of animal shapeshifters; an urban fantasy that boasts a higher death rate than a Game of Thrones book. I think it did at least, but I wasn’t really counting.

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?

I was excited to get The Wanderers. I even called up my good friend JM Tuckerman to ask which book I should snag, and The Wanderers won. I got around to reading it sometime before the semester started up, and I found myself forcing my way through the book.

Now usually, when I force myself through, it’s because the chapters are long and the prose is thick. The opposite happened here. The Wanderers had short chapters and concise writing, and that is normally a good thing. If you’re writing early children’s or middle grade books. This was a middle grade format forced on top of a YA story.

The chapters, some as short as three pages, were barely more than a single scene or event. The writing felt dry in places, and even if it was tender writing, the plot almost felt lacking. Unless I had missed something, not much was happening to drive the plot. Plot points felt like they simple arrived, out of thin air.

Maybe a part of it came from not really being sure what to expect from the story. I had been promised a romance, and perhaps I expected the romance to take center stage but it was only a sign we passed on the road that said “There’s a relationship here!” and that was it. I also expected a fantastical adventure, and while some of that rang true, it was mostly the cast of characters stumbling blindly after the first major plot point.

That isn’t to say that The Wanderers wasn’t a good book; Ormand handled the characters viciously. Her descriptions of the characters changing into their animal forms was every bit as beautiful as it was rough. And by rough, I mean of course that the characters went through a lot of pain to get there. (And we all love watching characters suffer.) Her command of language was effective and to the point: flowers where she needed it and cement where she knew flowers wouldn’t cut it.

If short chapters and efficient prose is the love of your life, I recommend The Wanderers. If you have any interest in shapeshifters, I also recommend this one, just so you can see what Ormand brings to the table.

A Book of Spirits and Thieves Review — ★★★☆☆

I picked up Morgan Rhodes‘ A Book of Spirits and Thieves on a whim. So far, most books I’ve picked up on a whim have been rather disappointing (I’m looking at you, Tiger’s Curse) but A Book of Spirits and Thieves was surprisingly enthralling and interesting. But the whole time, I felt like there was something missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on what. Continue reading “A Book of Spirits and Thieves Review — ★★★☆☆”

Allegiant Review – ★★★☆☆

I was recently pushed to finish Allegiant by Verionica Roth before I read anything else on my daunting To-Read list so I can freak out over it with Jessica Tuckerman. So I did and I still haven’t fully recovered.

Warning: major spoilers ahead.

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