Throwback Thursday ~Book Reviews: Brimstone Angels and Lesser Evils by Erin M. Evans

I had originally read Brimstone Angels closer to its original release date and remember loving it!  I don’t particularly know why I didn’t follow up on the series immediately.  There was a bit of confusion about book three being the third in the Farideh series but also the third in the Sundering series.  Now, it’s very hard to find these books in paperback, but you can find them in ebook and audiobook form.  So go check them out!

Brimstone Angels (Brimstone Angels, #1)

Mass Market Paperback, 339 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Wizards of the Coast

Listening to the audiobook this time around, I loved the voices the narrator uses throughout.  It really gave each character a chance to shine.  Plus I loved how well they matched their personalities.  The author did a great job introducing the world of Forgotten Realms without relying on the reader’s previous knowledge or bogging down veterans with too much description.  Having played D&D, I thought I followed the lore fairly well.  And when it seemed like too much, I didn’t have to worry about it affecting my enjoyment of the plot.

This book has pretty good pacing throughout and great character development for a decent sized cast.  The climax wrapped up the main story while introducing threads for the series to continue.  There is a bit of a cliffhanger for one of the characters, but it’s more of a lead than anything.  Definitely made me pick up book two a lot faster this time!

 

Lesser Evils (Brimstone Angels, #2)

Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Wizards of the Coast

A fantastic follow up full of a mysterious library and a magical book as well as something inhuman and creepy with a dash of misunderstandings and doppelgangers.  The author does a great job following up on some of those dangling story threads from book one in  a way that made the character growth seem real.  We get to explore another aspect of the Forgotten Realms map while learning more lore.

I particularly loved that a large chunk of this story takes place in a library of sorts.  I don’t want to say more than that because of spoilers, but as a book lover, I enjoyed that part very much.  Also, we learned more about Lorcan and his world.  I’m hoping to get the audiobook for book three very soon so I can continue this fun and exciting series!  Be sure to watch out for my reviews of the rest of the series in the coming months.

Throwback Thursday: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)

Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Roc

I’m pretty upset with myself for not starting this series sooner!  I’ve been collecting this series since its US release, but kept setting it aside for other reads.  In spite of hearing fantastic things!  I honestly could not tell you why I wasn’t as interested in picking this one up to read until recently.  Perhaps the cover wasn’t eye-catching enough?  Unknown!  But it’s all good now as I listened to this book as an audio and loved it!

This book creates an intense pace, delightful characters, deep-seated secrets, and an investment to learn more about the world and the characters’ backstories.  If you like thrillers, steampunk, libraries, secrets, things to get a little creepy, or the battle between order and chaos, you should have already been reading this series a long time ago!

So far, it looks like five titles have been released with a six scheduled for a December/January book birthday and a seventh that has been announced.  I know the first four books are sitting on my shelf, and I’ve just bumped them up much higher on my TBR.  Plus, I gave book one to a friend, so I’m sure she’ll want book two very soon 🙂

Have you read this series yet?  Want to yell at me for just now jumping on this train?  Go for it in the comments below!

The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library #6)

Summary:

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.
 
One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Throwback Thursday: Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

Three Mages and a Margarita (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #1)

Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 14th 2018 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

I recently listened to this one through Audible, and I really liked it!  I thought at first it was just going to be mind candy (a fluffy read with little to no depth although still excellent), but I found a well-thought out and surprisingly fun story!  I loved how the main character isn’t “special” aka she has no magical powers.  But, she was still able to provide her own perspective on things and definitely contributed to the guild in believable ways.

I would highly recommend checking out this book.  Besides our heroine, there’s magic and hot guys aplenty 🙂  I mean, if you need more reasons to pick it up.  But I think that you will find great enjoyment in this read.  Plus, it’s not a huge tome.

Looks like there are at least three more in the series, so I’ll probably have to pick those up too at some point.  Because we all know that my TBR needs EVEN MORE books on it.

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Throwback Thursday: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up

Hardcover, 428 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books

The prologue of this book really captured me, so I decided to read something outside of my usual fantasy/science fiction realm.  Which I don’t do often, especially not for straight contemporary.  I guess an argument could be made that there are elements of fantasy sprinkled throughout this story since our main character has schizophrenia and isn’t capable of separating reality all the time.  I don’t know if the author is portraying this particular mental illness authentically, having no experience with it myself, but I did appreciate having the different point of view.

That said, this book did remind me why I don’t generally seek out contemporary.  I definitely prefer my rambling day-to-day scenes to include magical creatures or exotic plant life to make it more interesting.  I also couldn’t get behind the romance or the parents’ reactions.  I spent a large chunk of the book frustrated!  But I did finish it, so there was something that held my attention.  Just can’t quite identify what that something was.

I would recommend this book to people who like contemporaries, or want to see high school through a much different point of view.

 

Summary:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Throwback Thursday: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Hardcover, 407 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books

I finally had a chance to listen to this as an audiobook.  And can understand why the series has become such a large fandom.  Unfortunately for me, I did not love this one.  I did like the concept and the intrigue.  The world and world building.  But I am all about characters and story logic, and that’s where this one fell short.  It might be because this was a debut and the author’s writing style isn’t as cohesive, but I spent a large chunk of the story either yelling at the main character for being so obtuse or questioning her logic jumps.  I don’t want to give away the mystery of the story, so no spoilers here, but I was hoping for Scarlett to grow as the story went on and didn’t get that.

Overall, I liked the concept and the game of Caraval itself.  More than likely I will read the second book, Legendary.  

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Throwback Thursday Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Hardcover, 504 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Orbit
 To be honest, I probably would not have picked up this book on my own.  But after listening to the author (i.e. Seanan McGuire) speak at ArchonStL a couple of years ago, I knew I had to read at least the first book.  And this is why.  She willingly swallowed a tapeworm egg and allowed it to live within her digestive system for 2 years. 2 YEARS!  That is some awesome dedication to your craft.
As to the story itself, I found it compelling.  Although I guessed the big reveal about half way through the book, I enjoyed following the author’s path.  As well as the in-denial characters.  It feels like a zombie story in some ways, which I normally don’t like.  However, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.  I’m curious to see what happens next!

Summary:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

Throwback Thursday: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)

Hardcover, 449 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Even though this book has been on my physical shelf since its release (as well as books 2 and 3), I just now read it for the first time.  And I actually listened to the audiobook to start with, but couldn’t wait for time to continue listening.  So I finished it with the physical book!  I liked this one a lot.  I’m a bit angry at myself for waiting so long to read it.  But I am hoping to fit the other two in before the end of the year now.
This was a fun take on the gender swap to avoid detection trope, and it led to some very amusing circumstances.  There was plenty of action and suspense.  As well as an abundance of secrets and mysteries.  Hopefully, those will be uncovered more as the series continues.  I would highly recommend this to any fantasy reader.

Summary:

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

Throwback Thursday: Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)

Mass Market Paperback, Greenwillow Books, 329 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Harper Trophy
Another book I’ve recently decided to re-read/listen as an audiobook at work was this classic, Howl’s Moving Castle.  I loved this as a young reader, and I think it has aged rather well.  I still love how the author subverted certain fantasy tropes by calling them out in the text.  And who doesn’t like the flame demon, Calcifer?  It does have some random loose threads that still bother me.  Like the missing prince, war that is only sorta mentioned as a plot device, and certain magic pieces being left unexplained.  But, it still holds the same charm and happiness that my memory has fed me all these years.  And because of that, I will continue to promote it to readers who haven’t had the pleasure yet.  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Studio Ghibli re-imagining.  While it didn’t keep a lot of the plot points, and changed many others, it was a great story, and I re-watch it quite often.
Image result for howl's moving castle

Summary:

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.