Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

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Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

I got an ARC during NYCC at a post panel signing with Adam Silvera.

It took me some time to get into this world. I was having a difficult time keeping characters straight and I could have used a Dramatis Personae.

I also had a difficult time understanding the difference between a celestial and a specter until more then halfway through. It felt like I was just thrusted into the world and expected to understand the terminology and mythology without much explanation. Especially, with the mention of the Blackout. I still don’t know what that event entailed.

However, it is a really fast read and once I got into it, it started to clicked.

There were some plot twists that were predictable. I also had an issue with the amount of time spent training for a couple of characters. No way could they be that good in that short amount of time.

But honestly, I’m not that bothered because I think the things I liked about it outweighed what I think could have been improved.

What I really enjoyed were the relationships between the characters. There was a lot of drama and a lot of tensions, mostly within the Spell Walkers themselves. I liked it because not only did it make the story interesting but it will allow for growth and development in the sequels.

The story also showed the power of social media, when it works for you and against you.

I liked the clear influences and Easter eggs from Harry Potter.

Another plus was having a cast of diverse characters.

The cliffhangers have enough spark that I will look out for the next book in 2021. I do like a fast fantasy read.

3 out of 5 Phoenixes

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

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Lula Mortiz may be a bruja with healing powers, but after her family’s battle in Los Lagos, she feels broken in a way she can’t seem to fix. Then tragedy strikes when a bus crash leaves her friends and her boyfriend, Maks, dead. Desperate to reclaim normalcy, Lula invokes a dark spell to bring Maks back. It isn’t until she hears that all of the bodies from the crash have gone missing that she realizes something is wrong. Lula has unwittingly raised an army of casi muertos–creatures between the living and dead–and they’re hungry for freedom…which they can only achieve if Lula dies.

 

I liked the first book, Labyrinth Lost, in the Brooklyn Brujas series so much that I immediately bought book 2. Now that we are close to Halloween I included Bruja Born in my challenge for the month: creepy, supernatural reads.

I enjoyed the second book as much as the first. There was a good balance between the relationships, the magic and mythology and the action of the story. The pacing was good too. I never felt that it was being too cryptic or lingering too long on a particular scene.

Once again I loved the family dynamics, especially between the sisters. I loved the way that the supernatural world mixed with the contemporary setting of Brooklyn. I love that this was set in Brooklyn. It was so easy to picture.

I love that the world expanded in this story with the introduction of new characters and organizations. I was really amused by the humor from the characters too. I love McKay, Frederik and Rhett.

The action was fun and exciting. I liked this spin on the casimuertos. They are like zombies but aren’t brainless. And they don’t desire brains. A small critique I have is I didn’t understand how they turned others into casimuertos. It’s not that important but I was just curious.

Also, I did miss Rishi. I understand that the cast of characters was big enough and so it was easier for her to be away, but I still missed her presence.

The ending certainly did leave it open for the next book and I am very much looking forward to it.

4 out of 5 Hearts

House of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

This is an ARC my sister won at Book Con 2019. I borrowed it from her.

I didn’t know it was a re-telling of the Brother Grimm’s “The Twelves Dancing Princesses” (a.k.a. “The Worn-out Dancing Shoes and “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”) I never heard of that story. So I can’t compare the two.

I do know I liked this version very much. It had a great atmosphere. I love the sea theme. The cover artwork is just beautiful. I really liked the world building and they way their different devotions to different gods and goddesses were explained.

The supernatural murder mystery was intriguing and kept me wanting to turn the page. The pacing does slow down a bit in the middle, but I still wanted to know the outcome. I had several suspects on my list because a few people come across as untrustworthy and I would change my mind as to who really was the villain.

I enjoyed how the book built up to the ending. I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t as Annaleigh searches for the truth.

I am happy to say that the love triangle was very minimal. It focused more on the sisters, the mystery, and the enchantments.

Also, I am glad that this is a standalone, but if it were to become a series I would like to see a story from one of the other cities that follow a different god or goddess.

Besides the slow pace in the middle I do have one other reason for not giving it a perfect score, but it’s a spoiler. Basically I am a little confused.

SPOILER WARNING

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.

 

I got this book as a give away at Book Con 2017.

I really enjoyed this story. While the world and story isn’t anything new, Córdova did a great job of incorporating old Latin American lore into a modern story.

I love the family dynamics and the fact that the characters are from Brooklyn. Alex’s coming of age journey and acceptance of herself and her powers was well done.

If your are looking for a fantasy book with diverse representation, read this. The leads are POC and there is a bisexual love triangle. Luckily the story doesn’t lean too heavily on the typically overdone love triangle aspect and concentrates more on the world building, the character development, and the magic.

I do have a small critique about the villain. I didn’t find her as scary or threatening as she was supposed to be. She was more cartoonish in my opinion. I also wished to know more about her history.

Overall I enjoyed it so much I bought the sequel right away because I want to see more from Brooklyn Bruja sisters (and Nova too) and know more about their family history and future.

Favorite quotes:

page 126: What’s the point of being what I am if I can’t use it when I need it to save my life?”

page 234: But burden or gift, this is who we are. Just think, nena, if you didn’t fear your own power, then you wouldn’t have respected it enough to rein it in.

4 out of 5 Death Masks.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

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Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

I am back on the Book Con wagon. A friend gave me this book when I told her I only picked up one book that day after being in panels all morning. I should start off by saying that I read the ARC and the novel will be released on August 18, 2015.

This book started out confusing. The story is not linear, the world building was not described in great detail. At one point I wondered if the lore had contradicted itself. The history of the war between the different races (or is it species?) was not as well described as I was expecting.

Then you have this passage at the end of Chapter 1

Shit, what the fuck am I even doing? What kind of history book doesn’t even have a map? Once upon a time there was a writer who couldn’t write a fucking book. I don’t know what comes next. That whole chapter’s going to need to get thrown out anyway. You completely forgot halfway through that you’d said it was raining at the beginning.
Was it raining?
No one’s ever going to know, and it’s all your fault.
Put a fucking map in the next draft.

I had no idea who was speaking there. For a while I thought it was Hannah Moskowitz herself talking to us, the readers. My immediate thought was, “Oh, it’s supposed to sound like a first draft manuscript on purpose.”

Pages 68-84, it all starts to make more sense. I realized the reason why the story sounded like a journal with scrapbook clippings. Also, once I realized the different between the races I knew that an error had not been made with the mythology.

Basically, it starts out strange and disjointed, not everything is as well explained or developed as it should be, but stick with it because it’s an enjoyable story. It’s also written in such a unique way that it stands out from other fantasy novels.

The story is more about the effects the war has on these young fairies, gnomes and a tightroper. It’s about the twisted relationships and trying to survive their circumstances.
There are dark themes: what is murder and what is self-defense during war time, teenage prostitution, and mentions of rape.

I also got the sense that in this world, there are no hangups about sexual orientation. There are prejudices, discriminations and slurs thrown around for other reasons, but not for one’s sexual orientation. I wonder if that was intentional as part of the world building.

I found myself engaged in the characters and their story, and it was not all what I was expecting.

4 out 5 specs of glitter. 

Book Reviews: The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan

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The Dead-Tossed Waves(The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2)

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

I enjoyed this a bit more than The Forest of Hands and Teeth. There was a wider view of the world where the community was not as sheltered and led to believe they were the last ones left alive. It gave the story more to work with.

As for Gabry, the inner monologues of her doubts became redunant and I couldn’t get into the love triangle between her Catcher and Elias. Though I did like the boys individually.

I did really like the scenes between Gabry and her mother, Mary. That being Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The relationships and aftermath from the first book tie in nicely. Any questions I was left when I finished The Forest of Hands and Teethwere answered.

3.5 out of 5 Waves.

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The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #3)

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah’s world stopped that day, and she’s been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn’t feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?

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Book Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare

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Shadowhunters and demons square off for the final showdown in the spellbinding, seductive conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian, but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance.

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?

I wrote a guest review for Lazy Book Lovers, where I remained spoiler free. If you don’t want any spoilers please read  my review on LBL.

If you have already read it and would like to know my thoughts and discuss the book, please continue.

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