Review | The Phantom Forest

Read By Dev’s book review of Liz Kerin’s debut novel, The Phantom Forest.

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By: Liz Kerin

Overall Rating: ★★★★

*Thank you Liz Kerin and Inkshares for providing an e-book for my honest opinion!

From Goodreads

Seycia’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.

After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seycia and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission, but also to one another.

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TL;DR:

The Phantom Forest has a bit of every good fantasy story weaved into it – Gods/Goddesses, a post-apocalyptic setting, evil overlords, premonitions of the future, and a brave heroine to tie everything together. The dark & haunting mood sets this story about the nature of humanity and what we’d do for love apart. I can’t wait for the sequel!

The Good

The Plot

Seycia believes that all souls are either good or evil, and that they all come from the Forest of Laida. Simeon believes Dohv, the ruler of the underworld, wants him to rule over his land with an iron fist, and sacrifices innocent youths to keep his power. Haben is a demon, cursed by and bound to Dohv. Miko is a 12 year old boy, destined for greatness. They all come together in a battle between good and evil, living and dead, and it does not disappoint.  If you love mythical lore, magical beings, and epic journeys, you’ll love this book!

*Don’t mind me, I’ll just be heavily researching Hades/Underworld lore for the next year.*giphy

The Characters

I found myself forgetting that half the characters in this book are children. So many brutal, soul-crushing things happen and yet Miko, Minari, and Seycia all manage to pull through and revolt against their captors and torturers. They are stead-fast in their beliefs and still manage to make the mistakes you would expect of younger characters. I also love that there are multiple villainous characters to contend with. It keeps action coming from every angle. My only wish is that character growth and the relationships between them would have had more time to evolve and blossom. The relationship between Haben and Seycia seemed a bit rushed into, and it has so much potential!

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The Writing

Liz Kerin’s writing is solid. Also, shoutout to the editor. I’m so glad I didn’t have to read through a mess of typos and grammatical errors! If you like dark, eerie moods and questions about humanity and what come after death, you’ll enjoy The Phantom Forest.

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The Bad

I Need More (And I Have to Wait For Book 2)

I read an advanced e-copy of Phantom and I just want to know what happens! I needed the conclusion like yesterday.

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The Ugly Truth

If you love stories of survival, haunting moods, and are in need of a new fantasy world to get hook on, grab The Phantom Forest when it debuts on July 16th!

Talk To Me

Will you be adding The Phantom Forest to your TBR list? How do you feel about the concept?

 

Review | Sorcery of Thorns Is Every Bookworm’s Fantasy

Read By Dev’s book review of Margaret Rogerson’s sophomore nover, Sorcery of Thorns!

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By: Margaret Rogerson

Overall Rating: ★★★★

*Thank You Simon and Schuster

Thanks to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, and Margaret Rogerson for providing an e-book for my honest opinion.

From Goodreads: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

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TL;DR:

If you enjoyed Margaret Rogerson’s first novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, you will LOVE Sorcery of Thorns. There are magical books, evil (and not-so-evil) demons, sassy sorcerers, and a strong-willed heroine. The feminist themes, slow burn romances, and unlikely friendships will leave you bewitched and wanting more.

The Good

The Plot

Let me repeat, there are. MAGICAL. LIVING. BOOKS. Readers, you should binge this book based on this alone. Who doesn’t want to read about a brave librarian facing off against an evil sorcerer? And who doesn’t dream of living in a magical library full of living, breathing books? There’s a dash of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Hogwarts Library vibes (think the restricted section times 100), hints of The Pagemaster, and a unique flare to piece it all together.

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The World Building

For being a standalone novel, I was definitely impressed with how well the world of Austermeer was thought out. There’s so much magical knowledge to devour in this story and it left me wanting more. Fantasy lovers will be highly impressed with callouts to the Enochian language, the use of salt & iron, the creation of grimoires & maleficts, and even the summoning of demons.

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The Characters

Every character in this story is amazing in their own way – yes, even all the grimoires! Elisabeth is a fearless, strong-willed bookworm who meets her enemies head on. Nathaniel Thorn is my new favorite sorcerer. He’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet and I lived for all his sarcasm. Silas is your favorite grumpy cat and will melt your heart. And Katrien will be the best friend you want in your life.

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The Bad

It’s A Standalone

I didn’t want this story to end! The world was so well developed, the characters were amazing, and I didn’t want it to end. This isn’t technically “bad”, but if you know me then you know I’m a sucker for long-lived stories. I just want more of Nathaniel and Elisabeth!

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The Ugly Truth

If you love magic and mystery, add Sorcery of Thorns to your June wishlist!

Talk To Me

How do you feel about sorcery and books about magic? Will you be adding this to your TBR list?

 

Review | Aurora Rising Is The Breakfast Club In Space

Check out Read By Dev’s review of Aurora Rising, the first book of the Aurora Cycle, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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By: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

“They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.”

It’s the year 2380, Tyler Jones finds a derelict space craft and manages to rescue one Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley from the wreckage. Auri is 200+ years old, has some freaky mind powers, and apparently, her only hope of survival is to hitch a ride with Ty and his crew. Ty’s crew isn’t the optimal squad. So, naturally, there’s in-fighting, tons of drama, sabotage, teen feels, and all the sarcasm one can possibly want in 400 pages.

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TL;DR:

When it comes to modern sci-fi stories, I didn’t think I would find anything that I loved as much as The Illuminae Files, but guess what? Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman knocked my socks off with Aurora Rising, and it’s my favorite read of the year so far. It’s sassy, humorous, fast-paced, full of amazing characters, and just 100% SPACE-TASTIC. If you love any of the following, you’re sure to love Aurora: The Breakfast Club, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Dramas/Soap Operas (BUT IN SPACE). Do yourself a favor and read this book as soon as humanly possible. And then recommend it to everyone you know!

The Good

Squad 312 – The Delinquents You Didn’t Know You Needed

THIS BAND OF MISFITS IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN LIFE. Okay, enough of the caps, but I needed to get my point across. Squad 312 is a mix of the Breakfast Club gang, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and every Star Trek crew out there. Which means one thing: they are the most sarcastic, lovable weirdos to fly across the galaxy. There is a character for everyone to root for (and mine are Tyler and Finian just so we’re clear.)

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Was I Actually Watching A Space Soap Opera?

This book starts off with a bang – literally – and does not slow down. It’s so action packed, I felt like I was watching a space drama. There are space battles, human vs. alien fist fights, squad drama, heists, and some glitzy intergalactic paaartaaayys. It had me on the edge of my seat from page one and I fell off said metaphorical chair multiple times.  Then I died at the end and was revived by thinking of book 2. If you’re looking for something to keep you reading into the early hours of the morning – you’ve got it!

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The Intergalactic World

The Milky Way is a big place and Kaufman & Kristoff make it their own. There’s a new first contact, new alien species (hallelujah for hot space Legolas), crazy space languages, and a fresh take on Warp Speed and space travel! To my fellow space nerds, be sure to keep an eye open for other Easter eggs I’m sure I missed.

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The Ending

Jay is notorious for not believing in happy endings and some of that shines through at the end of book 1 (Amie must be the ray of sunshine in this duo). The bittersweet cliffhanger gave me a heart attack and who knew it was possible to have ALL THE FEELS  in less than two pages.

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The Bad

Angsty Teen Romance

*Le sigh*. Am I getting too old for the angst?! I found myself not digging the romance elements of this story. I’m going to blame this one on me, though because everything else is just SO. GOOD. But, still. This would have been a 5-star read even without the bizarre love stuff.

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The Ugly Truth

I have one thing to say: READ AURORA RISING. It’s an amazing beginning to a sci-fi series and I need book 2 like yesterday!

Talk To Me

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? If not, will you be adding it to your TBR?