Book Review: Marilia, the Warlord (Chrysathamere Trilogy #1) by Morgan Cole

Author: Morgan Cole 
Release Date: March 2020
Genre: YA Fantays, Coming Of Age
Series: The Chrysthamere Trilogy: Book #1
Format: E-book 
Pages: 482 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:

Formerly published under the title “Marilia, the Bastard.”
Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life–the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general, a friend of her deceased father.

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s enemy. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to do whatever she can to help repel the invasion—if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a deal with the man who murdered her father.

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s Game, Marilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and one woman’s painful discovery that her childhood dreams weren’t quite what she imagined.

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Marilia: The Warlord by Morgan Cole is the 1st book in the series The Chrysthamere Trilogy and also my first book by author Morgan Cole (pen name.)

The first thing I’d like to mention about this amazing book is that it is full of life, willpower and strength! This book really got me out of my self-pitying reverie (related to some medical issues) and made me feel like myself again. And I am sure it was all possible only because of the main character, Marilia. She is just so full of life, courageous and willing to do anything in order to achieve her goals. Her relationship with her twin brother was not only portrayed well but felt very realistic as the author showed not only the good but also the bad that is an inevitable part of every relationship.

The secondary characters were all good too. But what I liked most after the characterisation was the world-building – it was brilliant! The writing is really good and presents the plot in a really good way, having a great flow to it which made this book an easy read.

If you are a fantasy lover than you must read this book! I highly recommend it to all YA and fantasy lovers.

You can also read this review on 

Author Interview: Morgan Cole

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Morgan Cole , author of Marilia, the Warlord, the first book in the Chrysathamere Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Morgan Cole

Bureaucrat by day, fantasy author by night, I began my writing career with several highly questionable life choices, such as a major in history and creative writing that was meant to lead to a glorious career as a fantasy author but instead led to the world of unpaid internships, minimum wage jobs, and a dingy, lightless apartment in small-town Ohio.

I suppose I took all those motivational posters about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars far too seriously. After a rocky relationship with a literary agent that didn’t quite work out, I decided to pursue an alternative career path (that actually allows me to pay rent) and to write my books on the side.

Growing up, my father instilled in me a passion for ancient Greek and Roman history (especially all the battles!), while my brother helped immerse me in the imaginative worlds of Morrowind and Middle Earth. All those influences are very much present in my writing.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Goodreads | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I grew up in the American Midwest with my brother, where I spent most of my time pretending I was either in space battling stormtroopers or in some fantasy world battling orcs or demons or whatever the monster of the day happened to be. I was the quintessential quiet, shy, anxious kid—I hated school because it involved social interaction and even CROWDS, a more fearsome foe than any demon. All that self-doubt, fear, alienation—I tend to pour it into my characters. It’s a cathartic process. 

I made a number of poor life choices in the intervening years. One winner has to be signing a contract with a literary agent while in a particularly intensive school program. I soon learned that I had absolutely no time, while studying, to make the edits she sought in order to transform the book from an adult fantasy into the more marketable YA genre. I stalled, and the relationship fizzled out. Afterwards, I decided to go it alone, as I kind of preferred the book as an adult fantasy anyway!

Morgan Cole is my pen name. Why the secret identity? I wish it was because I was some kind of secret celebrity, but the truth is that a buried part of me hasn’t totally given up on trying to get “traditionally” published some day when I have more time to devote to agent-hunting (and a book that better fits the market). And I’ve heard it’s easier to do that if the powers that be don’t realize you’ve published books on your own—an act of rebellion many in Big Publishing seem to frown on.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Though Marilia, the Warlord is a fantasy, it’s written in the structural style of a historical biographical novel, following the protagonist over the course of many years. I love to explore how childhood shapes who we are, so I couldn’t just not have scenes of the characters as children! It’s also possibly one of the only fantasy books I’ve read without any magic. Sure, there’s some weird creatures here and there, and crystal swords and the like, but no powers or spells. I have nothing against magic in principle, though I do truly hate it when the final showdown comes down to a character using some newly-discovered magical ability to just up and destroy the villain (you hear me, Letter for the King on Netflix??). I’ll take a good old-fashioned sword duel any day.

Finally, each book in this series explores a different theme, and one of my main goals with the first novel was to examine the notion of the “strong female character.” For some reason, the media often seems to assume that it’s empowering when a female character beats people up or kills them. Why? Isn’t it interesting that violence—stereotypically a masculine pursuit—is considered strong, while being less martially gifted is considered weak? Marilia swings a sword around, but that’s not what makes her a strong character. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Well, that kind of spoils the ending. But one thing I can say—despite this book being about a badass woman warrior, I did not want it to be about the generic kind of tough girl I see in a lot of recent Hollywood movies and bad novels—saucy, witty, always ready with a quip, always the most composed and unflappable person in the room, and strong by the virtue that she beats up/kills men. In fact, that was one of the very notions that I set out to question—that being a strong female character means engaging in the traditionally masculine, and kind of terrible pursuits of violently killing or beating people up. Why is that what is most respected by our society? How far have we really come if being a strong female hero means entirely rejecting traditionally feminine things in favor of violence? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I feel like that’s an easy one. Marilia, of course—the protagonist. She’s the most developed character in the story. She’s also probably the character who changed the most from draft-to-draft, going from a religious zealot who actually believed she heard the voices of the gods to the more grounded, level-headed heroine she is today. I also have a soft spot for several side characters who are loosely inspired by real people I know…but to say who or why would spoil the sequels. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

The Chrysathamere Trilogy was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother where we discussed the unrealized potential of the three Star Wars prequels (I was a shamelessly obsessed Star wars fan growing up; I had the Jedi hair going and everything) and how they were ripe for a remake with better dialogue. The story shifted and changed over time, and now only very loosely resembles its Clone Wars-in-fantasy-land origins.

There are certainly a lot of other influences. A song of Ice and Fire, obviously (I liked Game of Thrones before it was cool!), but also some lesser-known books and movies like Searching for Bobby Fischer, a rather excellent movie about chess and the harmful effects jealousy and cutthroat competition can have on children. When it comes to battle scenes and tactics, I tend to steal a bit here and there from real history. In this book, it was Alexander the Great’s epic battle at Gaugamela. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

While I’m happy to finally have this book finished, it was a real struggle to get there! I began brainstorming and outlining this novel back when I was scarcely older than Marilia herself. The writing and re-writing took ten long years! At one point, a literary agent advised me to cut the book (which at that time had two protagonists) in half and focus only on Marilia. I did, and the story was stronger for it. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

When it comes to my writing goals, I’m just going to take things one step at a time. I’ll finish editing and fine-tuning the 4 books (The Chrysathamere Trilogy + 1 other adventure novel) I’ve been working on, and then we’ll see…if people respond to them, like them, I’ll probably feel the urge to make more!

As for the good ‘ol “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question…I don’t think I’ve given an accurate answer to that question thus far in my life. Especially with COVID-19 roiling the globe and political turmoil roiling my home city of Washington, DC, I find it best not to plan too far ahead. In 5 years I could be a victim of the coming apocalypse, who knows? I don’t want to jinx it.

Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m still working on the third book in this trilogy. It’s the longest and the three, and the bloodiest, so it’s quite a bit of work. I ended up re-writing the last 150 pages from scratch because I wasn’t a fan of the climax. I wanted to be sure to get it right—I might have been inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones but I definitely wanted to make the same mistakes that series did when it came to (not) wrapping things up. After that, I have another nearly-finished project that’s sort of like if The Last of Us met the Princess Bride. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with harrowing sword duels and magical worlds. Together, my brother and I killed many imaginary orcs. So it always felt natural to explore that in my writing. Plus, I’d always wanted to read more fantasy books where there was no magic and the main character was just a regular person, so I figured why not write one? 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? 

I probably decided to “become a writer” around the time I was ten. I wrote my first novel in high school. It wasn’t totally terrible, but it certainly was pretentious, especially the scene where the villain stopped mid-fight to monologue to the hero for four pages straight about how charity and altruism is for the weak because we live in a society and something something laissez faire capitalism. Just as unnecessarily edgy as you’d expect an emo high schooler’s first novel to be, really. 

It wasn’t easy at all. In pursuing the dream of being a writer, I ended up making some foolish choices in college that cost me dearly when it came time to get a job. I feel, in retrospect, that it’s far better to major in something practical like computer science that allows you flexibility in employment (so as to have time to write on the side) then majoring in creative writing itself. For one thing, none of those classes teach you a whit about how to actually write and sell a novel, and the short story market isn’t exactly robust. I also sacrificed a lot of time I could have spent with friends—still a bit sad about that. 

Because I screwed college up so badly, I ended up struggling for a whole to find a long-term job. Eventually, an immigration lawyer was kind enough to take me in as an assistant after we met in the middle-of-nowhere Texas in a family detention center where we were both volunteering—him as a free lawyer for refugees seeking political asylum, me as an interpreter. Because of my experience working with him, I ended up going to law school, which is funny, because I never saw myself as any kind of lawyer (I always hated public speaking). Life takes you in strange directions, I guess!

I labored for a long time under the delusion that writing could pay my bills. It really doesn’t—the cost of a professional editor alone will easily be more than the yearly earnings of most self-published authors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value or beauty in the act of writing. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I have no real ritual. I like to do a lot of planning first—sometimes two months of brainstorming before I ever sit down to write. Even then, the story never goes 100% the way I planned. I write when I have time, which is usually on the weekends. Some of my favorite scenes got down on vacation, though. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Certainly on a laptop. I tend to hold my pencil with a death-grip and my handwriting is terrible. I’m convinced I was born left-handed and raised right-handed by mistake. I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so the laptop tends to make that easier. 

Your 5 favourite books?

A tough question, as they tend to change as I grow older. But they might be: Dark Age, by Pierce Brown; Circe by Madeline Miller; The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman; Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie; and Horns, by Joe Hill (what is it with Joes?) But I also like Gillian Flynn’s books a lot, and there’s this one book by Nick Cutter called the Troop that gave me nightmares and still gives me the shivers when I think about it, if you’re into that sort of thing…I guess maybe a part of me is still the edgy student I was in high school.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By feverishly trying to brainstorm my way around a problem until I fail miserably, then talking to someone else—a friend, or a relative—until finally clarity strikes. Usually the answer to my plot hole is outside the box. For example, I once spent three weeks agonizing about how Marilia could break into a castle and assassinate a certain character. After devising twelve plans, each more preposterous than the last, I jettisoned the assassination plotline completely and completely re-did the ending of that book. But I really struggle with writer’s block sometimes. For reasons unknown to me, so many of my problems seem to revolve around boats/ships. That naval battle in Marilia, the Warlord? An absolute nightmare. Once this series is over, if I keep writing, I’m going to only write books set in landlocked countries. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

They always say to read in your genre, but I feel like I grew as much, if not more, reading outside it, finding new ideas, and then dragging them back into the fantasy genre. “Literary” fiction, historical fiction, horror—I tend to read those the most. Also, don’t do what I did—major in creative writing in college. They taught me nothing about the marketing side of being an author, and, while my professors gave me some useful teachings regarding writing short stories, I gained almost next to no information about writing novels, which are a very different beast. I wish I’d chosen a major that would have made it easier to get a day job to leave lots of time for writing—I learned best through constant practice. 

Thank you, Morgan, for all your honest and helpful (especially to new writers) answers!


About The Book

Marilia: The Warlord

Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life: one of her deceased father’s friends, the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general. 

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her.

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s foes. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to help repel the enemy…if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a pact with the man who murdered her father. 

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s GameMarilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of war, romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and a young woman’s fight to find her place in the world. 

Get your copy of Marilia here:
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | Smashwords | iBooks


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Book Review: Requiem, Times Changing by R.J. Parker

Author: R.J. Parker
Release Date: 26 September 2019
Genre: Young AdultFantasy, Adventure
SeriesRequiem (Book #1)
Format: E-book
Pages: 450
Publisher: Olympia Publishers
Blurb: Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this

REVIEW

★★★★

Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker is a fantastic new young adult fantasy adventure book that had everything you can expect from it. It was full of action, dramatic adventure, good characterisation, decent writing, a great concept, good story and supernatural beings! What else can you ask for!?

The best part, for me, was the friendship between Clint and Corbin and the focus on family relationships. This book had really good characterisation as I was able to relate to and connect with the protagonist while also liking and rooting for the secondary characters. The writing was mostly good and complimented the story.

This book hooked me right from the beginning right till the end and I’d recommend this book to all the readers who enjoy reading adventure fiction and young adult fantasy books.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Oddity Of The Magicus Eye: Patterns (Part #1) by Patrick Malum

Author: Patrick Malum
Release Date: 26th September 2019
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult, Space Fantasy, Serials,
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 75
Publisher: WordBuzz Publishing
Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Elenah Lockwood dreams of what lies beyond her boring world of Etheron. With a mind fuelled by amazing, fantastical stories of the vast and sprawling galaxy, she needs only one thing: an opportunity.
Her older brother, Teveran, is destined to go where she cannot and lead the greatest fleets of the revered and indomitable Forty-Ninth Council. But there’s war and unrest, and it frightens him more than anything.
And then there’s the kind and unassuming butler, Gilgan, who has seen the worst of what the galaxy has to offer and is now seeing signs of the very worst happening again. All is not well on Etheron — and in the galaxy — for a sickness swells in the murky galactic depths and it all begins with the Forty-Ninth Council.
The day the Council descends on Etheron begins like any other day . . .
PATTERNS is the first episode of ODDITY OF THE MAGICUS EYE, the monthly space fantasy from the emerging young author Patrick Malum. Prepare for a tale of war, galactic politics, and ancient magic told like nothing else before it.

REVIEW

★★★★

Oddity Of The Magicus Eye: Patterns by Patrick Malum is the first episode in the serialised fantasy series Oddity Of The Magicus Eye. This is a very quick read and proved to be a complete entertainer. I enjoyed each and every bit of it.

I enjoyed this book from start to end. It moved pretty fast and the tension was evident throughout all chapters making it a page-turner that I wanted to read in a single sitting. The plot was really good and the ending was perfect. I am now eagerly waiting to start with the next episode!

The writing was on point and complemented the plot well. The characterization wasn’t over-complicated and I really appreciated it because the characters were all pretty relatable and likeable (enough for me to have enjoyed reading and knowing more about them.)

Another thing I’d like to mention here is that I was really impressed by the author’s taste in designing this book, something that is always lacking in self-published books. The editing was also in place as was the proof-reading. The book looks gorgeous and compels the reader to pick it up because of how neat and professional it looks. It screams amazing things right from the cover and coupled with that intriguing blurb, the author has got the recipe for a really good book which is equally good on the outside as it is on the inside.

I’d recommend this book to all sci-fi and fantasy readers as it’ll appeal to everyone who loves adventure and action coupled with space and magic. And the fact that it is in the form of short monthly episodes makes it all the more appealing.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Time of Prophecy (The Outlands Pentalogy #5) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult
SeriesThe Outlands Pentalogy (Book #5)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 330
Publisher:
Blurb:
In the years since Kitty, Nate and Thom escaped the Kingdom, the Plague has ravaged the population and the rebels have seized two of the northern countries. In an attempt to bring order to the chaos, the leader of the rebels, Nate’s old friend James, has agreed to hold trials for those responsible for intentionally leaking the Plague.
Unfortunately, the rumour in the Kingdom is that Kitty is responsible. To make matters worse, Blaise tells Kitty that the Council, who still count her father as one of their own, are once again experimenting on Radiants. It’s a horrifying realisation that hits too close to home, and for the first time in her life, Kitty thirsts for vengeance. It’s a thirst that’s matched by the one person who has always been her mirror — her Complement, Thom.
On the other side of the Wall in the Outlands, desperate to bring Kitty home and finish the Council once and for all, Thom begins plotting, using the skills he’s long honed to outsmart those with more power. But outsmarting his enemies might turn Thom into the very thing he’s always feared becoming, and war soon seems the only possible solution to stopping the Council and the Hangman. But with more than a few looking to the ancient prophecy of peace, Thom searches desperately for a way to circumvent more bloodshed.
Yet the weight of the years have taken their toll, and as Thom’s physical and mental health deteriorate, Nate struggles with the fallout of past crimes, both the ones he did commit, and the ones he didn’t …

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

A Time Of Prophecy by Rebeca Crunden is the last instalment in The Outlands Pentalogy.

What a great end to a great series! OMG, what can I say? There are YA books which revolve around such petty conflicts that they are entirely cringe-worthy and go a long way in destroying the reader’s trust in the genre itself, but then there are some rare gems, like this series, that come out of nowhere and restore your faith in a genre you thought was on the verge of being lost.

This book served as a great end to the series as it answered all the questions I had and provided me with a satisfactory closure. Most of the times, series continue to be great until the last book where everything falls flat or at the least, you are left disappointed or unsatisfied because nothing can do justice to the awesomeness of the story. Many times writers simply don’t know how to end a series and that is what ruins it entirely. But when it comes to this series, we have a writer who not only knows how to begin something epic and but also knows how to end it with the same rigour and grace.

And this series deserved a good ending because it was such a thrilling, complicated, exciting and engaging story about gripping, strong, believable and well-developed characters in realistic and intricate settings. This dystopian series is a hundred times better than most of the “best-selling” series of today. I would happily place this series with the likes of Hunger Games and Six Of Crows because the characters in this series face bigger problems than teenage hormonal dilemmas and are relatable in an unbelievable way.

The writing in this book was on par with the other books so far and made the reading of this book a pleasant ride. The tension and pacing were apt and I finished this book in no more than 3 days, so it was a very quick read. I’d recommend this book to all dystopian and fantasy lovers and to those who want to explore a unique new series by a new author.

Check out the other parts in this pentalogy here: A Touch Of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1)A History Of Madness (The Outlands Pentalogy #2)A Promise Of Return (The Outlands Penology #3) and A Dance Of Lies (The Outlands Pentalogy #4)

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: Simon Grey And The March Of A Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski

Author: Charles Kowalski
Release Date: 1st August 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Historical, Travel
SeriesSimon Grey (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 192
Publisher: Excalibur Books
Blurb:
Alone and lost in haunted Japan…

Japan, 1620: A mysterious shipwreck has left cabin boy Simon Grey stranded in an unfamiliar, dangerous land.

He hoped that a long sea voyage would provide some relief from his “gift” of seeing ghosts everywhere on land. Instead, he finds that his ability draws him into the shadowy world of yokai, the spirits and monsters that roam Japan by night. Together with the mysterious Oyuki, daughter of an English sailor-turned-samurai, Simon must earn the yokai’s trust and help, while staying one step ahead of the Shogun’s guards and an evil sorcerer determined to discover the “secret” of Simon’s powers.

As they struggle to stay alive and find a way home, Simon and Oyuki deal with friends and foes from both sides of the grave.

Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts is a gripping fantasy adventure that will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and Young Samurai.

REVIEW

★★★★

Simon Grey And The March Of A Hundred Ghosts by Charles Kowalski is a beautiful historical story set in the backdrop of Japan, laced with unlimited adventure, which proved to be an absolute entertainer.  I enjoyed reading this book because it had the perfect characterization a solid and unique concept and good writing style. It had all the elements to make it a complete and fun read.

The writing style was simple yet effective and the story flowed pretty well from the beginning to end. The pacing was even and the tension created had a great graph. The book was culturally rich and provided keen insights into Japan’s history all the time carefully managing not to get too overly informative.

Overall it was a really enjoyable book and I’d recommend it to all readers who enjoy reading adventure stories in historical settings, especially the readers who like exploring new cultrues.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 2nd October 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Dystopian
SeriesShatter Me (Book #1)
Edition: Paperback
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

REVIEW

★★★

Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi is one the most popular YA series of recent years but despite the hype that surrounds this series, the first book failed to impress me. I enjoyed and appreciated the author’s world-making prowess, but the characterization completely ruined the book for me. The main character, Juliette, was not only annoying, but she also came off a bit as a narcissist as well. The entire time I feel that rather than showing the author was forcing the reader to feel sorry for how Juliette has been misunderstood her entire life which only made me resent her.

The romantic angle did absolutely nothing to make the book interesting, so that was another thing that disappointed me. I liked the settings and the world a lot though, so I’ll be reading the next book for these two things (and also to see what happened to Warner because, let’s face it, he was more interesting than Juliette and Adam combined.)

Anyway, here my video review for this book, hope this sums up my issues with the book!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch more videos.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: A Dance Of Lies (The Outlands Pentalogy #4) by Rebecca Crunden

Author: Rebecca Crunden
Release Date: 
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult
SeriesThe Outlands Pentalogy (Book #4)
Edition: E-book
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
A year into the Outlands and life has only become more dangerous and complex for Kitty and her friends. Not only are the Outcasts hunting them, but Charles and Ciara are adamant about returning to the Kingdom to help, forcing everyone to take a side. To make matters worse, the leader of the Outcasts, Quen, has an unrelenting fascination with Thom and Nate that soon reaches horrific heights.

As tensions mount and the group begins to splinter, Riddle comes to Kitty with an unexpected request. A secret. One that makes them inseparable.

Kitty soon finds herself spending more and more time away from Nate and Thom, learning to fight and increasingly drawn into the ways of the Radiants. But Kitty and Riddle’s new bond doesn’t come without complications, and a decision made by the two of them threatens more than Kitty’s relationship with Nate …

REVIEW

★★★★+1/2

A Dance Of Lies by Rebecca Crunden is the second last part in The Outlands Pentalogy and the sequel to A Promise Of Return. In this instalment, things progress slowly as compared to the other parts in this series till now, but nonetheless, they progress steadily giving the feeling that it is a slow build-up to something very important. And alas, the ending was a smashing hit because of such subtle build-up leading to it all throughout this book.

I enjoyed reading this book greatly even because of the slow pace followed in most of the book because the story kept taking me forward and the air of inevitable danger lent it a really good vibe. The characterization was great as usual and we got to see Kitty again along with some other major characters. The ending was mindblowing and has created a lot of excitement for the last part of this series.

Again, I’d recommend this book as well as the entire series to young-adult and dystopian readers and also to anyone looking to get into a new series by a relatively new author.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

AuthorLeigh Bardugo
Release Date: 12th July 2016
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic & Elementals
Series: Six Of Crows (Book #1) & Grishaverse
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 495
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Blurb:
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Review

★★★★★

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, the first book in the Six Of Crows Duology (also a part of the Grishaverse), is DEVILISHLY GOOD!!

When I was starting with this book, I did not even have the slightest of ideas that it would turn out to be one of my all-time favourite fantasy books! I loved, LOVED, the world-building and felt like Ketterdam was indeed a real world of which I desperately wanted to be a part of! This book is like a dream come true for a fantasy reader because this book has so much to offer to its readers that you simply can’t fault it! The conflicts were ridiculously good and lent an air of authenticity to the characters, something that lacks in most of the fantasy books these days. It was pure bliss to have read this book as I was so fed up of reading books that were only hyped up and had literally next to nothing to offer Caraval.

description

This book is a mind-blowing and earth-shattering dark fantasy novel. The story is deliciously complex and suitably grounded and the characterisation very mature, gritty and intricate. The story and the concept are simply out of the world and the author’s meticulous detailing is spot-on. This is a book you’d want to get lost in forever.

It is like a beautiful piece of art that you want to collect and then visit and revisit it again and again and again… This book is so ridiculously good that I can re-read it right now (only after 10 days.) It is one of those books that you wish would never get over… like The Hobbit and the ASOIF series but in a totally different way.

description

THIS BOOK HAS IT ALL!!
✦ A badass anti-hero with gut-wrenching inner-conflicts and an extremely difficult background and who is dubbed by people as the demon or the devil – check ✔︎
✦ A deadly and dangerous heroine who uses her Wraith-like persona to find out everyone’s dark secrets in order to serve the devil himself – check ✔︎
✦ A super-funny, charming and dangerous sharp-shooter side-kick who also happens to have a crush on the devil – check ✔︎
✦ A super-sassy, bold and gifted enchantress with unmatched super-powers who can kill you with a snap of her finger – check ✔︎
✦ A badass warrior-hunter-soldier who cannot be matched for strength – check ✔︎
✦ A naive rich brat who has left all the comforts and riches behind in order to find himself – check ✔︎

And there’s even more…
☛ An impossible heist
☛ Harsh weather conditions
☛ Bitterness amongst some people in the crew
☛ Possibility of backstabbing
☛ The odds are completely against and the stakes are so high that the readers can’t help but get swept away by how things happen the twisty turns that greet them at each and every page turn!

This book is a legitimate un-put-down-able read and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and/or books with a solid plot as well as characterization. I mean, What The Hell Are You Still Waiting For?! Go and get this book today and do yourselves a huge favour!!

this review is also posted on Goodreads

Book Review: Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu

Author: Bo Wu
Release Date: 23rd July 2018
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 342
Publisher:
Blurb:
“’Crabs talk?’ asked Benji.
‘Everything in nature speaks. Not everything in nature listens,’ said Octavius nodding Topside.”
Benji Fisher has spent the first twelve years of his life growing up in a small fishing town, Topside. He’s gotten used to the gang of dolphins who follow him on his surfboard and the voices he hears under the water; odd things that have, in their repetition, become part of normal everyday life.

However, none of that prepares him for the recruitment speech he gets from an octopus named Octavius and three of the dolphins the night before his thirteenth birthday.
What would you do if your ‘calling’ in life required you to take a leap/dive of faith? Would you take the plunge?

Review

★★★★

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu is a pleasant new young adult fantasy book with a nice concept and a strong plot. I enjoyed reading this book, though initially, it took me some time to get into it. But once I was hooked, it was difficult to not read it in one sitting.

The concept of this book is not only beautiful but also very well-meaning and has a lot to teach its readers. The way the author executed the plot and the storyline, it came across beautifully and the message of the story gets highlighted but without being too obvious.

In spite of liking the story, I felt that somewhere something important was missing from the book. I feel that the overall story would have come across much better had the writing been a bit stronger; it wasn’t bad, just not very polished. I think what this book really needed was a very strong and firm editing as it would have solved most of the issues  I came across while reading the book. Nonetheless, the story itself has a lot of potential, so that is the biggest positive for this book. The characterization wasn’t spot on but it was good enough to make me care for the lead character.

Overall, it was a nice, cosy read which read more like a middle-grade fiction than a YA novel. I’d recommend it to teens and adults alike who have a special liking for mermaids/mermen and the aquatic life.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: TwoSpells by Mark Morrison

Author: Mark Morrison
Release Date: 21 February 2018
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy, Young Adult
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 316
Publisher:
Blurb:
Sarah and her twin brother Jon are heirs to an ancient magical realm and its most valuable treasure, an enchanted library. The library endows readers with the supernatural means of crossing into the uncharted inner-sanctum of the second dimension, inhabited with peculiar and sometimes perilous creatures.
The children are emboldened with a wondrous mystical gift that no other being has ever possessed. But fate intervenes and triggers a disastrous inter-dimensional war that disrupts the fabric of time and space spanning multiple universes, tearing destiny a new and savage pathway.
The two must rescue their world from a phantom hybrid alien race controlled by a demented dark-wizard, Jeremy Sermack. They will either assimilate or be exterminated.
Will they be the saviors the prophets spoke of, or will they retreat to the perceived safety of their distant homeland?

Review

★★★

TwoSpells by Mark Morrison was a delightful read with a very engaging plot and decent story-telling. I enjoyed reading this book from start to finish and even though the characterization wasn’t perfect, it was good enough to take the story further. It wasn’t an overly loaded read and proved to be a light and breezy read.

I liked the tension in the book and the build-up was also pretty good as was the ending. It suited the plot and I’m looking forward to exploring more titles by the author. The world-building was good, the pacing was decent and the writing okay and overall it made for an enjoyable read which I’d recommend to all fantasy lovers who don’t mind reading a story with very young protagonists.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill

Author: J.L. Mulvihill
Release Date: 12th July 2013
Genre: Steampunk, Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: Steel Roots Series (Book #1)
Edition: e-book
Pages: 274
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC
Blurb:
The Box Car Baby introduces the character of AB’Gale Steel who was born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia, according to what her papa told her. Bishop Steel, a mechanical engineer for the Southern Railroad, found his adopted daughter snuggled in a basket of cotton on an otherwise empty boxcar in the train yard. When no one came around to claim the baby, Bishop Steel, rather than relinquish the child to the State only to end up at the Workhouse someday, smuggled her home to raise as his own. The name on the boxcar he found her in read, A B Gale Logs, and so he named the baby AB’Gale.
But if the mystery of who her real parents are isn’t enough for fifteen-year -old AB’Gale, Papa Bishop goes missing. Worried for her family and afraid of having to spend her life at the Workhouse, AB’Gale goes into town to see if anyone’s seen her papa, only to find a deeper mystery. At the train station no one seems to know who her papa is even though he’s worked for the Southern Railroad for thirty years.
An encounter with a strange Hobo-man, who claims to know her father, results in the acquisition of a leather eye-glass tube that he says belongs to her papa. Before AB’Gale can question him further the man runs away. When she gets home, she finds the Crushers taking her grandma off to the Oldies-home, so she hides until they are gone.
AB’Gale finds that the leather tube contains a map of the United States, with markers made by various towns across the country. By each marker is a word or a name written in her papa’s handwriting.
Alone, and with only the clues of the map to go by, AB’Gale has no choice but to set out on her own to find her Papa.

Review

★★

The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill is a steampunk dystopian with a very interesting plot which unfortunately wasn’t executed well.

Considering the beautiful covers of all the three books in this series, I was expecting the book to be really good and polished, but unfortunately, it proved to be a bit of a disappointment. I have the entire series with me and I was really excited about it, but there is so much telling and not enough showing in this book that it gets difficult to read after a couple of pages itself. Plus, the story progression is way off than should be allowed in an edited book.

The writing was too simple and there was a lot of wandering. The characters felt flat and the overall connection was not established (though I was able to see the effort the author put into it, but it simply didn’t work.)

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Super Me by Jessica Dazzo

Author: Jessica Dazzo
Release Date: 20th July 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal
Series: Super Series (Book #1)
Edition: E-book
Pages: 327
Publisher:
Blurb:
What does it mean when your mind goes rogue and starts making stuff up? For example, if you were to hear the radio talk to you—say your name and tell you to do something… that couldn’t be a good sign, right? Or when everyone keeps saying your ex-crush’s name in random conversation when you’re just really trying to get over the jerk because he’s actually terrible? Not good.
Seventeen-year-old Faye Aldright has never quite fit in, but when she starts hearing and seeing things all wrong, it makes life so much harder. Faye knows she’s the cause of all of the intense, awkward, and sometimes explosive misunderstandings with her mom, best friend, and the new boy who she definitely hates. She knows it’s all in her mind and that for some reason, it’s turned against her. It’s trying to ruin her life. She just has to figure out how to fight the crazy in order to get her life back on track–in order to find out what’s really going on in her little town, because something supernatural is definitely going on.
But how do you fight your mind? And what kind of person has their own mind as their nemesis?

Review

★★★★

Super Me by Jessica Dazzo is a refreshing new YA paranormal novel that is hard to put down once you get into the story.

Initially, it took me a while to get into the story, but once I was in, it was hard not to read and finish it off in one sitting. The story is complex, in a good way, and engaging. The writing is good and makes the book an easy and quick read. The characters believable and the setting fitting to the tone of the overall plotline. So, on the whole, it was a complete package and I enjoyed reading it. But what really set this book apart from the others in the genre is the emotional believability of the protagonist’s internal (as well as external) conflicts. I was able to connect with Faye and felt deeply for her. Other characters were also developed well and, hence, the ending proved to be emotionally exhausting yet rewarding at the same time.

If you’re into paranormal and supernatural fiction, then you must check out this book.

this review is also posted on goodreads and amazon